Arab women have made gains in education but not in employment.
Arab women have made gains in education but not in employment. Photo by Alon Ron
Text size

Arab women have bridged gaps in education and number of children versus their Jewish counterparts over the past 40 years, but gaps in workforce participation have only grown, says the Bank of Israel in a new report.

In 1970, the average Arab woman had 3.3 years of schooling; in 2010, that figure was 10.1, versus 13.1 for Jewish women, found Tel Aviv University Prof. Eran Yashiv and Bank of Israel researcher Nitza Kasir.

Over that period, the percentage of Arab women in the workforce increased from 10% to 20%. For Jewish women, it increased from 30% to 60%. So the gap of 20% in 1970 is now at 40%. In 2009, 22% of Jewish women had two or three children under 17, compared with 32% of Arab women. The number of Arab women with four or more children under 17 has dropped since 1970.

"Not only did the gaps in workforce participation not shrink, they grew, even though the gaps in education decreased," said Yashiv. "This surprised us. Education and fewer children are known around the world as factors increasing employment, pay and number of work hours." he said.

"We believe the explanation lies in barriers and cultural factors such as discrimination by employers as well as a lack of public transportation and day care," Yashiv said.