Allyson Altit

Israel, and Women’s Empowerment

Women’s empowerment is quite evident throughout Israel’s society. The most recent display for the world to see was Netta Barzilai. Once again singing her winning song, “TOY,” from last year’s 2018 Eurovision competition, Netta deserves attention. In front of millions of people, Netta belted out her tune,[…]

Women’s empowerment is quite evident throughout Israel’s society.

The most recent display for the world to see was Netta Barzilai. Once again singing her winning song, “TOY,” from last year’s 2018 Eurovision competition, Netta deserves attention. In front of millions of people, Netta belted out her tune, perhaps even better than she did during the finals, when she ultimately won. The song’s lyrics are speaking to boys or any male really, conveying the point that the woman is not a toy. The song does not mince words, it’s direct in claiming that the woman is beautiful and strong, and will not be impressed by nonsense.

The women in Israel, indubitably, make their voices heard. I hear them speaking; whether out loud in the Knesset, where twenty nine women are currently active in the government; I also have a front row seat in many Israeli homes. As I’m surrounded by a variety of women, living and working in Israel, I’ve observed that they all have a very busy life.

If I roam Tel Aviv, on any day of the week, the cafes are busy, interesting to me is the amount of men frequenting the establishments. Many have their babies in tow, and some even bring their dogs along for the outing. It does impress, the many Mr. Moms I’ve noticed around town.

One may question, as I, do these men work, and did they ever work? I’m referring to healthy guys. I presume that there are all sorts of arrangements at home, with their significant other. I believe, also, that many of the men have worked, and could continue to work, but the women may be bringing home more of a pay check.

I must clarify, however, that with all the men that I have seen babysitting their kids at the cafes, there are still many men at work. The economy in Israel practically forces, both wife and husband to work, because the cost of living is so high.

What I enjoy mostly from the role of Mr. Mom, and just any Dad, is witnessing their participation bringing their child to and from school, the nurturing contribution these men provide is impressive. They are very willing, and able to take care of their babies as well as mommy does. They are clearly proud of that fact.

The general goal here, as it appears to me, is to keep women and men in balance. Even if both wife and husband work, those men will also bathe the children, cook for them, and take on a fair portion of the rearing. Many women are getting help from their husbands.

About the workplace environment; I decided to interview one of my own daughters. She has been working since completing college many years ago.

These are the Questions and Answers from an inside view of the workplace in Israel:

1. Are you offered an equal pay for the same position as any male co worker?

Answer: I definitely believe that the pay is equal, and perhaps I am paid a higher salary here in Israel. It wasn’t that way back in America.

2. Do you feel complete respect from your male coworkers and is it the same from the females as well?

Answer: Yes. I, along with my female coworkers are looked upon as a trend setter here, for the various responsibilities in relation to the position we hold.

3. What is that position and role?

Answer: Training and Knowledge Manager.

4. Is there a balance of women and men holding senior positions in the company, and if not, why?

Answer: There isn’t a balance, there are more men who hold higher positions in the company; but perhaps that’s due to the environment, it is a more male dominated industry in High Tech.

5. Why is High Tech still more dominated by men?

Answer: It actually depends on the nature of the work and the product of the company. My company is a software, based on neural network research (which happens to be coming from a team of 30 men who hold PhDs). Along with that is a hardware component, therefore, I conclude that because it’s not “sexy,” it attracts a more male audience. As opposed to another company that promotes gaming, advertising, and social media would attract more women, typically.

6. Would you then say that there’s work to be done in the area of who is given the higher positions at work?

Answer: Yes. I think what needs to be improved is in the area of the department who is actually responsible for creating a balanced work environment. This department I’m referring to is human resources, which in my company coincidentally is made up of 8 women. They should be more pro active in implementing the celebration of women in the workplace. It shouldn’t be done for the reason that we are women, but rather because we get the job done as good, or better than any male counterpart.

7. When it comes to having babies, how fair is the company toward the mothers and fathers?

Answer: It’s a law in Israel, to give 3 months maternity leave, with pay, and then there’s an option to extend it for longer without pay. Their work position is secured for these women. Men get a week off to be home initially. The women are definitely taken care of in Israel when they require maternity leave. The terms differ in pay depending on how long a woman has been with the company, the pay is adjusted accordingly.

To sum up, my daughter told me that there is a definite sense of understanding when there are personal necessities to be tended to during work time. Whether leaving early, or arriving to work late, this can be acceptable with legitimate issues. There’s much more compassion extended toward all employees at work here in Israel. Having experienced the work place in both sides of the world, the conclusion is there are significant differences between the work place in America and Israel.

I decided to approach this topic, of women empowerment and the workplace because it’s such a crucial matter. Comprehending it best through my own daughter was additionally a significant approach for me. It’s reassuring to witness this balance at work being implemented. Nobody wants anyone they know to be treated unfairly or not equal; this would just allow the disrespect many of us can still recall when we began in the workforce. While I have also learned that it’s not a hundred percent fair toward the treatment of female workers in every company, it’s comforting to know this generation of women has become strong enough to know when to pick up and move on, should they not receive the proper respect at any given workplace.

These women are truly paving the way for women’s empowerment to be a fact of life, and never cease to exist.

The above was originally published in THRIVE GLOBAL.

About the Author
Allyson Altit is from New York. She has worked in the travel industry for over 30 years as a leisure specialist. Her area of expertise is in European destinations and Israel. She has been involved with charity work for the Hadassah organization as well. In 2009 she graduated from Queens College majoring in Jewish studies. She has just completed writing her first novel...
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