Israeli women earn 22% less than men, study finds

Israel’s wage gap is fourth in size among developed countries; nearly 90% of educated women work

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter.

Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox women at an Israeli high-tech company (Abir Sultan/Flash90)
Illustrative: Ultra-Orthodox women at an Israeli high-tech company (Abir Sultan/Flash90)

Women’s salaries in Israel are nearly 22 percent lower than men’s, placing the country behind other developed countries in the size of its gender wage gap.

Only Korea (36%), Japan (27%) and Estonia (26%) had higher salary differences between men and women out of a total of 34 countries for which data was gathered in 2011, the Shoresh Institution for Socioeconomic Research reported this week, in advance of International Women’s Day on Tuesday.

The smallest wage gap — under 5% — was to be found in New Zealand.

That said, wage gaps in Israel have come down by 6.3% since 2001. During that time period, the divide between female and male students studying for matriculation exams at the two highest levels in at least two math and science fields have also narrowed.

The higher the matriculation level of studies in math and science, the greater the pupil’s chance of getting accepted to the best academic institutions and into disciplines feeding into the highest-paying occupations, the study shows.

But while the percentage of boys and girls studying math and science has evened out (the gap was only 2% in 2013), overall numbers in this category are in sharp decline for both sexes.

Between 1995 and 2013, the percentage of boys studying two subjects in higher level sciences fell a whopping 9%, from 32% to 23%. Participation among girls dropped only 2% over the same period, from 23% to 21%.

“The principal determinant of employment and wages is education,” stated the researchers, Sagit Azary-Viesel and Prof. Dan Ben-David.

Almost nine in 10 well-educated women work (those with 16 years of schooling or more), compared with only one in three who left school at age 16.

Overall, women’s employment has multiplied nearly threefold over the past half century.

Not surprisingly, more than half of women staying at home gave childcare as their main reason for not working, with the researchers finding that the cost of early childhood care played a significant role.

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