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Are Wage Gaps Keeping Israel Out of the OECD?

The gap between women’s wages and men’s wages in Israel is getting wider. According to the latest annual survey conducted by Oketz Systems, men in senior management positions in Israel are making on average 29% more than women in identical positions.

The survey results show a distinct widening of the gender gap in salaries. Last year, the gap was 26%; in 2007 the gap was 25%; in 2005, the gap stood at 23%. It exists in all levels of employment, but increases in senior management positions. The gap is 24% among CEOs, 26% among those second in command, and 41% among product managers. The widest gap of 49% is noted among marketing managers, in which men earn on average 29,480 NIS ($7,833) per month and women earn on average 19,730 NIS ($5,243) per month. Only in administrative positions does the gap all but disappear — with monthly wages of 5,270 NIS ($1,400) for men and 5,260 NIS ($1,397) for women.

Oketz, which develops tech solutions for calculating wages, based its findings on a sampling of 4,750 workers in a range of industries. It was conducted in January in advance of International Women’s Day which falls on March 8, and was published in Yediot Aharonot’s “Mamon” magazine supplement.

Interestingly, salaries across the board seemed to have gone up in the past year, according to Ami Bergman, director of Oketz. “Both men and women’s salaries have increased,” he told Mamon. “Only, men’s salaries have increased by 4.84% while women’s salaries have increased by 2.51% — half the increase of men’s salaries.”

In other words, not only area women paid less, but they also have a harder time getting recognized, and getting a raise.

The challenges of women getting promotions, raises, and fair salaries are to a certain extent an international problem, though Israel seems to fare particularly poorly compared to other countries. According to the 2007 Gender Gap Index, Israel trails way behind most Western countries, and even behind the Philippines and Mongolia; it comes slightly ahead of Yemen and Egypt.

The Gender Gap Index measures the gender gap in economics, politics, society and education. But when the Index isolates the economic factors, Israel is doing incredibly badly. According to this Index, in terms of salary gap alone, Israel ranks 119th in the world.

These international comparisons have real practical implications not only for women, but also for the future of the State of Israel. In fact, socioeconomic gaps are one of the primary criteria for Israel’s pending acceptance into the OECD. Knesset Avishay Braverman, Minister for Minority Affairs, has been negotiating with the OECD to accept Israel as a member. But these wage gaps, which are currently wider in Israel than in all of the OECD member nations, have thus far been the greatest hurdle to his goal.

Braverman reportedly promised OECD chair Jose Angel Gurria to work on this problem of wage gaps. Unfortunately, the Oketz survey, which corroborates previous findings from Israel’s Finance Ministry and its Central Bureau of Statistics, is not encouraging.

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