Closing the Boardroom Gap

A quarter of all women in the commerce and services sectors hold managerial positions, which includes CEOs, vice presidents and department heads - according to a survey by the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce (FICC) conducted for International Women's Day.In these sectors, 46 percent of all employees are women, according to the survey of 90 companies from the commerce and services industries.

The FICC says that 69 percent of all working women are mothers, of which only 27 percent hold managerial positions. In most companies women in managerial positions are between 36 and 46 years old. The age of women in clerical positions is 30 to 40.

Asked whether women managers work longer hours than lower-level employees, about half of the companies said there is no difference in the number of hours worked. Half reported a difference of about 20 percent.

In 2006, only 5.7 percent of all CEOs in Israel were women, according to Dun and Bradstreet Israel. The percentage of women who serve as vice presidents totals 13.2 percent. Senior sources at D&B Israel said the percentage of women managers is increasing every year, even though it is low.

Clothing stores and chains have the highest representation of women CEOs - 13.2 percent. These include Castro co-CEO Gaby Roter and Golf CEO Ilana Kaufman.

Women constitute a relatively large percentage of all CEOs in public services (12.3 percent) and entertainment services (9.9 percent), but are poorly represented in contracting (2.2 percent), furniture (2.8 percent) and electronic equipment (3.5 percent).

In food services, 23.7 percent of all vice presidents are women, 22.6 percent in the leasing industry. This compares with only 6.3 percent in food stores, 7.7 percent in furniture and 8.9 percent in electronic equipment.

The survey indicates that the percentage of women CEOs in large companies (those of more than 100 employees) and small firms (less than 10 employees) is nearly identical, at 6.4 percent and 6.3 percent respectively. But only 5 percent of all CEOs in mid-sized companies are women.

Dun and Bradstreet economists also note that companies rated as lower risk are more likely to be led by women than high-risk firms. At low-risk companies 6.3 percent of all CEOs and 13.3 percent of all vice presidents are women. At high-risk companies 5.3 percent of all CEOs and 11.2 percent of all vice presidents are women.

The Manufacturers Association also prepared data in anticipation of International Women's Day. Ronit Sklar, who chairs the Women Industrialists Forum at the Manufacturers Association, said 5,700 women currently serve as managers in industry, compared with 29,000 men. The average percentage of women on boards of directors is 25 percent, which it would like to see doubled.

Sklar added that 4,700 women are employed in industry in technology roles such as engineers and electrical, electronic and computer technicians. This equals 4.3 percent of all women in industry. In the same professions 22,000 men are employed, 7.7 percent of all men employed in industry.

Only 18 percent of women in the Arab sector are employed outside the home, compared with 56 percent of Jewish women and 59 percent of Arab men, according to a document issued by the Massawa Advocacy Center for Arab Palestinian Citizens of Israel.

The document claims that the economy loses NIS 6.2 billion annually as a result of the failure to integrate Arab women into the labor market. "Inclusion of Arab women in the workforce will promote economic growth and at the same time help many families in the Arab sector break out of the cycle of poverty - and reduce the dependence of these families on government assistance," Mossawa says.

The average annual income per capita in the Arab sector is $7,700, compared with the national average of $19,000. "Despite the improved levels of education among Arab women, there has been almost no improvement in their integration in the labor market," the document notes. "The lack of opportunities to enter the workforce causes frustration and exacerbates the losses caused to Arab families that invest more in the expansion of education for women."

The Mossawa Center wants a national plan for integrating Arab women into the labor force by establishing industrial and commercial areas near Arab settlements, and granting these settlements national-priority status. Until industrial and commercial areas have been established, sources in the Mossawa Center say that accessibility of Arab settlements to employment centers should be improved and the number of professional training courses for Arab women should be dramatically increased.