In Interviews, Israeli Businesswomen Get More Home-and-hearth Questions Than Male Counterparts

For International Women's Day, TheMarker finds businesswomen are more likely to be asked about gender, family and cooking in TV and newspaper interviews than businessmen.

Capital markets chief Dorit Salinger on Channel 10.
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You’re the CEO of one of Israel’s biggest companies, or a high-tech entrepreneur, or maybe one of the government’s top regulatory officials. What is a television or newspaper interviewer going to ask you about?

If you happen to be female, the odds are much better than if you’re a man in the same job that you’ll get questions about your family and children. You might even be asked for cooking tips, although the good news is you’re less likely to face that old chestnut about the price you pay for success.

That’s what a survey conducted for TheMarker by Ifat Media Research found ahead of International Women’s Day today.

The survey, which sifted through interviews conducted over the past year by major media outlets, including TheMarker, Globes, Yedioth Ahronoth, Israel Hayom, Ynet, Calcalist and Channel 10, looked for questions about the interviewee’s gender, children/family, character traits and emotions and whether accompanying images projected strength or softness.

Ifat found that 30 percent of all business women interviewees were asked about their gender, while none of the men were. Seventy percent got questions about their family and children, compared with just 30 percent of the men.

Percentage of women in news broadcasts on Channels 2 and 10

No male businessman was asked about cooking, but 30 percent of businesswomen were. Women were four times more likely to find themselves fending off a hostile question than men – 40 percent of the total versus just 10 percent.

“The study shows that even if we’ve succeeded in partly removing references to gender in interviews, we haven’t succeeded in decompartmentalizing them. We know there are certain things you’re not supposed to ask and we’ve begun treating women in senior positions in the economy in a more businesslike way, but interviews with them still largely end up appearing in women’s programming or magazines and not in general news,” said Noa Novak, an analyst at Ifat Media Research.

Shahar Gur, manager at Ifat, added that female interviewees from the business sector facing more hostile questioning suggests that interviewers show less respect for women’s opinions. “Meanwhile men are invited to express their views freely on politics and the situation generally in Israel,” he said.

A separate survey of women in broadcast news found that the women comprised 33 percent of all television interview guests in 2016, up from 25 percent two years earlier.

The survey by the Second Television Authority found that women held 56 percent of all anchor positions, accounted for 29 percent of journalists, up from 22 percent in 2014. They accounted for only 29 percent of outside experts invited to the studios, but that was up 10 percent percentage points in two years.

Ifat found that female regulators were more likely to be interviewed than businesswomen, which might not be surprising since women hold many of the top business-regulatory jobs, including that of Bank of Israel governor and the heads of the antitrust, capital markets and banking supervisory bodies.

The woman who got the most media exposure was Inbal Or, whose property company went through a high-profile collapse and was the subject of a police investigation and a spate of lawsuits. In second was Chief Justice Miriam Naor, who was deeply involved in the appointment of new justices to the Supreme Court.