Israel Sliding Down World Gender Gap Index

Israel is three places lower than it was last year, ranking behind such states as Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Namibia.

Israel ranks 55th on a list of 135 states surveyed in the Global Gender Gap Index 2011, published on Wednesday by the World Economic Forum.

Israel is three places lower than it was last year, ranking behind such states as Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan and Namibia.

Eliyahu Hershkowitz

Israel's position on the list, which benchmarks gender differences on economic, political, education and health-based criteria, has been deteriorating since 2007, when it was ranked 36th. The following year it plunged to the 56th slot.

"It's great to have women like Dorit Beinisch, Tzipi Livni, Galia Maor or Ada Yonat, but you have to examine the statistics to see the painful truth," says Dr. Shlomit Yanisky-Ravid, head of the Women At Work project at Ono Academic College.

"A prominent woman who has managed to break the glass ceiling is merely a fig leaf concealing the discrimination against women, and their exclusion from senior positions," she adds.

Women constitute almost half of the civilian workforce in Israel - twice as much as during the state's early years. They comprise almost a third of executives, 47 percent of academic professionals, half of the judges and most of the students.

But women's situation in Israel is far from satisfactory as far as equality goes. Figures provided by the Central Bureau of Statistics in 2007 show the average male employee's income is about NIS 9,300 - almost 60 percent more than the average monthly wage of a female employee (NIS 6,000).

Part of the gap is due to differences in working hours. Men work 46 hours a week on average while women work 10 hours less. But even when this factor, which stems in part from the state's not helping working mothers, is neutralized, the wage gap between the sexes is 20 percent.

Discrimination prevails among women in senior positions as well. A male executive's monthly income is NIS 20,000, while a female's is NIS 13,000 - a 52 percent gap.

Iceland heads this year's Global Gender Gap Index, with the narrowest difference, followed by Norway and Finland.

קראו כתבה זו בעברית: ישראל במקום ה-55 בעולם בפער בין גברים לנשים