Israel: Women Earn Less, Face ‘Glass Ceiling'

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By Jenny David

Israeli women earn significantly less than their male counterparts even though they live longer and are better educated, according to a report prepared by the Central Bureau of Statistics.

According to the data, average life expectancy for Israeli women is 83.1 years, compared to 80.1 for men, and up by almost two years in a decade. Almost 70 percent of women graduate from high school, compared to 56 percent of men, and a higher percentage of female high school graduates are eligible for higher education—56 percent compared to 46 percent among men—and more women are employed in positions requiring an academic degree (57 percent).

Nevertheless, fewer women reach managerial positions—only 34 percent in 2016—and many choose to study for lower-paying professions, such as nursing and education, further depressing average wages.

Higher Satisfaction, Lower Participation

The average monthly salary for a woman was 7,666 shekels ($2,079) in 2016, compared to 11,219 shekels ($3,043) for a man—an almost 32 percent gap—the CBS study found. The gap among the self-employed was even greater, women earning an average 7,065 shekels ($1,916) a month, men 12,399 shekels ($3,363).

The CBS attributed part of the gap to gender differences in work hours—men work an average of 44.9 hours per week, women 36.7—but even factoring that in, the wage-based gender gap still tops 15 percent.

And even though more employed women above age 20 claim to be satisfied with their jobs—90 percent of women compared to 87 percent of men—only 56 percent say they are satisfied with their salaries, compared to 62 percent of men. In addition, fewer women work full-time. Of all women employed in 2016, 68 percent worked full-time, 32 percent part-time, compared to 87 percent and 13 percent, respectively, of men.

Overall, however, only 59 percent of women work compared to 69 percent of men.

Lower Pay, Even in Top Positions

Even those who do break the glass ceiling are likely to earn significantly less than men, according to a separate survey conducted for The Marker newspaper.

Top female executives at the 100 largest companies traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange earned an average 31 percent less than their male peers in 2015, the survey conducted by the BDO Consulting Group found, a gap of 2.7 million shekels ($733,000) including salary, bonuses, other nonsalary compensation and social benefits.

The widest pay-based gender gap, the survey found, was in industry, where men earned an average 187 percent more than women, and in holding companies, where the gap was 127 percent.

Women outearned men only in real estate (by 21 percent), trade and services (by 4 percent) and banking (by 7 percent), the survey found, attributing these gains to a handful of top-ranked female professionals in those sectors.

Fewer Female Execs

Such senior female executives are few, however, said Keren Kibovich, a partner and corporate governance expert at BDO.

“The low rate of women filling senior management jobs has remained unchanged over the last three years,” Kibovich said, noting that 10 percent of senior positions at TA-100 companies were filled by women in 2013, 13 percent in 2014 and 11 percent in 2015. Among the 308 top executives surveyed, only 35 were women.

Women's pay was also more heavily weighted toward salary rather than stock options and bonuses, the BDO survey found. Among women, salary accounted for 54 percent of income, among men 43 percent. Women tend to prefer financial certainty to performance-based risk, Kibovich said, or “are compensated more for their past performance and proven abilities, while men are compensated more for their potential and future achievements.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Jenny David in Jerusalem at correspondents@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rick Vollmar at rvollmar@bna.com

For More Information

A summary of the CBS findings is available in Hebrew here.

For more information on Israeli HR law and regulation, see the Israel primer.

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