Women in the Job Market
Many feminist issues in countries around the globe pertain to the workforce and the female role within it and Israel is no exception. In Israel, approximately 50% of women partake in the workforce, which is relatively high in comparison to the rest of the world. However, amongst women in peripheral regions, Arab women, and middle-aged women, the unemployment rate is huge. Only 22% of Arab women are in the workforce. Yet the gap in percentage in the workforce is not the main issue for women.
In 2008, the salary gap was 19% between men and women. Some of the believed causes for the salary gap are:
Occupational segregation between men and women
Perception of women as second-income earners leads to the expectation that their salaries are “pin-money” or “extras”
Women’s fear and lack of capacity for salary negotiations
Even with an increase in women’s education, the salary gap hasn’t changed. Another issue is the low minimum wage in Israel which is 20 NIS or $5.34 per hour. This affects women because they account for 70% of minimum wage earners. 50% of working women do not reach the threshold for paying income taxes. Women and migrants also account for 46% of those below the poverty line.
For women that are in the workforce, there is a struggle for them to move up and reach middle/senior management. Women constitute 20-30% of middle management but are blocked by a “glass ceiling” from senior management. Females make up only 2% of senior management.
When looking at minorities (Arabs, Druze, Beduouin, etc.) women struggle even more. As of 2001, Arabs, both male and female, over the age of 15 accounted for 40% were active in the job market. This percentage is so low because of the small percentage of females in the workplace. Only 15% of Arab women work as opposed to 53% of Jewish women. For those who do work, there is an even higher salary gap; however, the cost of living in Arab housing is lower.
With all of the issues that Israeli women face, the government does stress women’s rights when it comes to child birth. By law, maternity leave is 14 months and every woman who gives birth in Israel receives a birth grant as well as hospitalization costs, even if they are not a resident. Women who are working before pregnancy are granted full salaries while on maternity leave. The State also has legislation in place that forbids the firing of women during pregnancy and after birth.
Dilemma: How does your ideology feel about women in the workforce? Should women be working amongst men and in high management? What can be done to rectify the gap in salaries? Why are there more men in the workforce than women? How would your biographical group explain the causes of the salary gap? What legislation would you like to see changed?
Food for Thought: