Women in the United States are familiar with the fact that we get paid less than men do for the same work — 23 cents less for every dollar, as a matter of fact. We also know that we might be turned down for jobs because we have kids, so employers think we have no time for a job, or because we don’t have kids so employers see us as heartless and unfeeling.
In many places around the world, the statistics about women in the workplace are much worse, and Israel is no exception, though they have seen a rise of participation in the workforce in the past few years:
In 2011, 68.6 % of women of working age (18-67) participated in the labor force compared to 45.2 % in 1980. Labor force participation rate of mothers with children up to age four increased significantly from 41.4 % in 1980 to 70 % in 2011.
Even though the amount of Israeli women in the workplace has been rising, women are still paid less than men, given mostly part time jobs, and are not given senior positions at the same rate as men. Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has now made it his goal to strengthen the involvement of women in the Israeli workplace. He solidified this goal by passing a new law that will give incentives to employers who employ and promote women and will help parents better balance their work lives and home lives. The Committee for the Advancement of the Women in the Workplace approved these new regulations on Monday, taking a huge step in the country toward equalizing women’s rights in the workplace.
According to Bennett, “Wages of women in the Arab sector are about two thirds that of men, with less than a third of working Arab women compared to men serving in management positions.” He also continued on to say that employers who promote women to senior positions will only benefit.
Though these measures are being put in place to combat sexism in the workplace and to incentivize the promotion of capable women who have been held back solely because of their sex, there are sure to be detractors. As with any program that gives incentives to promote or accept people, detractors will state that women are being promoted only because they are women rather than because of their merits. However, this is an important step for Israel to start leveling the playing field at work by asking employers to look past their biases and give women the opportunities they have so often been passed up for even though they have more than proven themselves capable.
In a perfect world, we would not need regulations like these. However, our world is far from perfect when it comes to women’s rights — especially in the workplace. I hope to see these new laws making a huge difference in Israel not only in helping women get and keep high-level jobs, but also in strengthening their workforce and economy. Perhaps the United States will find they have a thing or two to learn from Israel about women in the workplace.
Photo Credit: The Israel Project