Even at Israel's Equality Ministry, Male Civil Servants Outearn Women

First gender breakdown in state budget reveals gaps everywhere, although the treasury has narrowed its differential.

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Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel
Social Equality Minister Gila Gamliel.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem

The 2017-18 budget presented to the Knesset last week contained a gender analysis for the first time, which showed that women get paid less throughout the government and its agencies – from male bastions like the Religious Services Ministry and Israel Prison Service to the more egalitarian Social Equality Ministry.

The equality ministry can at least boast that its payroll is about equal, with 47% of the staff male. But the gap between the median wage of male and female staff is very wide, even by the standards of other ministries.

Men earn an average of 18,886 shekels ($4,960) a month, compared with 13,653 shekels for women. At the senior level, the gap narrows to about 1,000 shekels a month, but most of the senior staff are male, the ministry reported.

Not every authority or service provided complete data. At the Israel Police, officials reported that just over 28% of the 18,325 officers are women. Male officers earn more than women on average in all ranks, with the gap averaging 2,000 shekels a month.

The one exception is on the level of commissioner, where the single female at that rank earns more than her peers, on average.

The Prison Service was more unabashedly male – except, oddly enough, at the most senior levels. Only 18% of its payroll is female, but the rate rises to 31% among its senior staff.

Nevertheless, the average male in the highest ranks of the Prison Service earns 33,000 shekels a month before taxes – 3,000 shekels more than his female peer. At lower ranks, the gap narrows to 300 shekels, it reported.

Despite the discouraging numbers, Gila Gamliel, the social equality minister and a backer of the new gender analysis, said it was a necessary start to undertaking change.

“Not a single budgetary item was left unexamined from a gender perspective, and this will open a big door to real changes in the way resources are allocated,” she said. “The minute gender becomes a way of analyzing the budget, it will become a factor in how money is allocated. That’s the next step we seek.”

One ministry that provided some of the most detailed figures was the treasury. More women work at the Finance Ministry than men – 491 to 463, but men earn 17% more on average than women: 22,231 shekels versus 18,923 shekels.

Two female police officers at the scene of a terror attack in Jerusalem. Senior female officers earn 3,000 shekels less than their male peers, but the gap is 300 shekels in lower ranks.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi

Still, the gap is narrowing: the treasury said the difference was 27% as recently as 2011. One reason for the gap, it explained, is that men tend to work in higher-paying units of the ministry, like the accountant general’s office and the budget division, while women work in lower-paying branches like the Holocaust Survivors’ Rights Authority. In addition, fewer women have a post-secondary education – 262 versus 301.

By contrast, the Defense Ministry provided very few figures. It didn’t report the number of people it employs, but said its entire wage bill for men in 2017 would be 383 million shekels, while for women it would be 320 million shekels. Some 92% of the 7.2 billion shekels in pension payments it is due to make next year will go to men.

At the Religious Services Ministry, 49% of the staff is male but accounts for 60% of the ministry’s total wage bill. The Education Ministry, whose employees are overwhelming women, including its director general, provided no pay data at all.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office didn’t provide staffing numbers, but said 62% of its senior staff was male while the overall gender division was closer to 50-50. No data was provided on pay.