Working Women

Dr. Mira Henig, in her book Feminine Type, enumerated 600 vocations and found women in only 150 of them. Fully 75% of employed women held “women’s jobs” in fields such as teaching, health care, and social work. Those who wish to climb the ranks in their organizations or move into new fields face a specifically Israeli obstacle: army service provides an excellent basis for networking, mobility, and civilian success for men but not for women. On the other hand, most Israeli career women, unlike their American counterparts, are not under pressure to favor their jobs over other priorities and do not feel it necessary to sacrifice family, children, and personal life in favor of career advancement and success.

As for women executives, between 1994 and 1997 their number grew from 6,500 (16% of all executives) to 9,000 (20%). Those at the pinnacle of the industrial sector (CEOs, vice-presidents, and owners of enterprises rose from 650 to 1,450. Women gained ground relative to men in both industry and in public services, rising from 10% of executives in both sectors to 16%. The main change in the distribution of women executives in the period 19941997 was a decrease from 25% to 14% in the proportion who headed personnel and quality-assurance departments and increased representation in corporate legal and economics departments and in finance and marketing/sales positions. But some 45% of industrial enterprises still had no women executives in 1997.

What Employed Women Do


Liberal professions 19.3 
Executives 2.7 
Scientific & academic occupations
Sales 20.7 
Agriculture 0.6 
Industry 6.2 
Unskilled 8.3 
White-collar 29.1 

Labor-market penetration by women increased in the 1990s, to about 45% of wage-earners. There were also more women in managerial positions in the public and private sectors: in industry, a rise from 7% to 14% between 1992 and 1997. (Source of data: CBS)

In mid-1998, 35,000 women were employed in the civil service (in the broad Israeli sense of the term, which includes nurses and teachers), of whom 15,000 were in the health system. In 1997, the Civil Service Commission created a special function—women’s advancement officials; by mid-1998, 62 of 70 government offices and auxiliary units had filled these slots. As of that date, the 700 public companies, each of which has seven or eight directors, had a total of only 120 women board members; half the companies had none at all. Legislation that passon June 22, sponsored by MK Haim Oron (Meretz), stipulated that any all-male board of a public company must appoint a woman as a public representative. By November, around 25 women industrial executives had been added to these boards, their names drawn from a Manufacturers’ Association database of qualified candidates.

Few women executives moved into big-money positions: in 1997, 93% grossed less than NIS 180,000 ($52,182, using the average 1997 exchange rate) annually; none earned more than NIS 240,000 ($80,577). They also took the back seat in executive perks (see graph).


Percent of Men and Women Employees
Who Received Executive Benefits, 1997

                                                                                               Source: MAI

Source: Israel Yearbook and Almanac 1998, pp. 93.

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