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Glass ceiling prevents most women from reaching high rank positions
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Comptroller: Israel's public service suffers from gender bias
In new report, comptroller reveals data which points to "glass ceiling" for women in public service, with drastically fewer women than men in State's top positions.

Gnder discrimination in public service in Israel is widespread, says a report published Tuesday by the state comptroller to mark the International Women's Day.


Women face gender discrimination in senior positions in government ministries, hospitals, government-owned corporations, statuary corporations, universities and other public entities, the report showed. 



Public service in Israel and those who stand at its helm (who are mostly men) have failed to implement the fundamental principle of equality between the sexes, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira wrote.


In 2011, 64 percent of women served in the public service, but the upper ranks of positions were male-dominated, with 32-34% of women in the highest rank, 36% in the second rank and 39% in the third rank.


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According to the comptroller's report, the data indicates that there is a reverse ratio between the number of women in public service and women in senior management. Meaning, the higher the rank, the lower the percentage of women in that rank. The comptroller added that this fact reflects the existence of a glass ceiling. The report further shows that between 2008 and 2011, there was hardly any change in the rate of females employed in all high-ranking positions in public service.


Women have been under-represented at executive levels in government ministries throughout the years, the report said. In October 2013, only six out of the 30 general directors in government offices were women.


The comptroller examined the performance of 13 government ministries between 2007 and 2011. During these years, the report found, general director positions were almost entirely male-dominated. Among the 34 general directors who held positions during those years, there was only one woman. At the time the inspection was conducted, no women were serving as general director in in any of the 13 government ministries that were inspected, including the Prime Minister's Office, the Defense Ministry, the Finance Ministry, the Interior Ministry and the Justice and Health Ministries.


"The fact that women are not appointed as general directors of government ministries carries the message that women are incapable or unworthy of standing at the head of government offices," the comptroller wrote. "This wrong message may seep into the ministry and its management and may bring upon a situation in which women are not appointed to other senior positions."


The discrimination extends to the Israel Police as well, in which there are 27,500 field and staff officers, 23% of which are women. The representation of women in senior positions is extremely low, and there are some ranks in which they are not represented at all.


There is an under-representation of women at universities as well, and the number of women in senior academic positions is very low. In these institutions, the report said, the inverse-ratio phenomenon is widespread; the higher the rank, the lower the number of women.


The public service failed to establish the principle of equality in practice, the comptroller noted in the report's concluding chapter. The High Court previously ruled that ministers must act to implement fair representation in public institutions, but as the report indicates, Israeli governments for generations have not formulated a clear policy on the subject and have not established mechanisms to enforce the ruling.


In order to make a change, the comptroller wrote, the government and its ministers "must, each in their own field, work to promote gender equality in senior positions and refrain from appointments that may undermine this goal."


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