Sisterhood Blog

Israel's Wage Gap

By Allison Kaplan Sommer

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If Israel’s government wants to improve the economic condition of women, it can start by looking at its own payroll. According to the public sector salary report that was just released, the majority of government workers are women — 64% — and yet women’s earnings in the public sector significantly trail those of men. Haaretz reports:

The average monthly salary for women was 24% less than the average for men. The average gross pay for women stood at NIS 11,498 [$3,158] while men averaged NIS 15,060 [$4,136] a month. The report further showed that while the proportion of women in the public sector workforce is growing from year to year, so is the wage gap. The fact that men are employed in higher-ranking jobs than women only accounts for some of the discrepancy.

Some of the overall trends observed in the report explain the discrepancy. On average, the highest-paid workers are employed as port workers, in the defense establishment and in government ministries. By contrast, those working in education are significantly underpaid. (Israeli elementary school teachers with 15 years’ experience make the equivilent of $19,868 annually.) The overall impact on women’s comparative salaries is clear.

There is some good new in the report: The number of women employed as doctors working for the state-subsidized HMOs is on the increase. In 2009, women made up 37% of doctors. Back in 1997, that number was only 25%. The highest-paid state employees were the country’s top doctors and heads of hospital departments — five out of the six highest-earning public sector employees, earning in some cases more than 10 times the average government salaries. So maybe if a few women doctors make their way up the ranks — there is at least some hope for the future.


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