Shalom Life | April 03, 2015

Study: Israeli Women Believe Being A Female Breadwinner is "Unfeminine"

In a recent study at the University of Haifa, women admitted to working unpaid hours, and performing unpaid tasks, believing that asking for equal pay is seen to be as unfeminine

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: March 31st, 2015 in Business » Israel

A study conducted by Dr. Amalia Saar at the University of Haifa shows that Israeli women are willing to put in extra unpaid hours at work, do tasks without getting credit for them, and are afraid to ask for higher wages because they believe it to be "unfeminine."

For this study, Saar observed and spoke with roughly a hundred women who were participating in an economic empowerment course over the last decade. Although the participants attending the course had expressed a desire to earn more money, she discovered that women were afraid to make financial demands at their place of employment. To make matters worse, Saar also discovered that women were even more unwilling to become their household’s primary breadwinner.

“The cultural mechanism in Israel dictates a situation in which femininity is associated with care-taking, and thus women give up on competitiveness and assertiveness ahead of time,” she explained in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. “In that kind of situation, women approach negotiations at their jobs at a disadvantage, apologetic and thankful that they were even hired.”

According to Saar, gender expectations are the main reason women feel their success at work is hindered. Men are expected to be a financial rock for their families, while women are expected to be homemakers and caretakers.

“Unlike a man, who sees the goal of earning NIS 15,000 as an incentive, a woman will see in it something frightening,” Saar’s report continued.

The Central Bureau of Statistics also confirmed that an average salary for an Israeli woman was 31.9% less than that of her male counterpart back in 2013. Although part of the difference in pay could be a result of fewer hours worked by women, they did find a main reason for the wage gap to be a result of women not advancing to upper management or executive positions.

Although Saar is hopeful about the future, she stresses that conditions for women need to change. Raising awareness of both men and women, encouraging the division and sharing of household chores, are all steps that can help change popular views on gender roles in Israeli society. And that these little steps can go a long way in encouraging business women to speak up for equal pay, and help them get credit for the work they do when promotions roll around.

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