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By Jenny David
April 13—Israeli women are still paid far less than men, remain in traditionally female fields, are under-represented in managerial positions and are discriminated against for pregnancy and parenting, according to the results of a study recently released by Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. The average monthly salary for women in 2014—7,280 shekels ($1,900)—was 32 percent less than the male average. The median gap was 26.7 percent, indicating that gender-based pay differentials were larger at the higher end of the pay scale.
“The figures are just one more proof that salary gaps are neither a myth, nor an exceptional phenomenon,” said Aliza Lavie, head of the parliamentary Committee on the Status of Women and Gender Equality. “They are an evil illness and a moral distortion that we must continue to fight.”
Part of the pay gap is accounted for by the difference in the average number of hours worked each week by men (45.8) and women (37.1), which reduces the hourly average wage gap to 14.4 percent, the CBS report said.
Arab women were the exception, earning an average 6.1 percent more per hour than Arab men. The CBS credited this to Arab women's higher educational levels.
Women generally work fewer hours because many are stuck in traditionally female professions, which generally pay less than traditionally male occupations. Women accounted for more than two-thirds of those employed as caregivers, clerks, secretaries, accountants and teachers from kindergarten through high school, the report said, and only one-third of those working in Israel's internationally renowned high-tech sector.
Even when they do work in traditionally female fields, a much smaller percentage of women reach managerial positions, according to the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC). Women were roughly half as likely as men to be managers in 2014.
Although there was a 4 percent increase in the total number of employed women in 2014, only 7 percent of them were managers, compared to 13 percent of men.
Raising the status of the working woman is particularly important in Israel's periphery, said Israela Mani, FICC vice president for Economics and Taxes. Women could be an economic growth engine for the periphery, Mani said, calling for more business mentoring, day-care funding and extracurricular activities for youth, a longer school day and recognition of childcare expenditures for tax purposes.
More women are also complaining of being fired for being pregnant, according to Israel's Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), part of the Economy Ministry.
About a third of complaints regarding discrimination in the workplace last year were pregnancy-related, and another third related to the demands of parenting, the EEOC said in its annual report, released March 3.
Among those fired, female petitioners cited fertility treatments, pregnancy and parenthood as the main discriminatory causes.
Israel's gender gap is almost identical to that in the U.S. and the U.K. and must be addressed globally through legislation, public awareness and education, EEOC Director Tziona Koenig-Yair said in a statement.
“We need to see women as the excellent potential workers they are in the workforce and not as a ‘walking womb,'” she said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Jenny David in Jerusalem at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at email@example.com
The CBS statistics are available at http://cbs.gov.il/reader/newhodaot/hodaa_template.html?hodaa=201511057.
For more information on Israeli HR law and regulation, see the Israel primer.
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