Highlighting Discrimination Against Ethiopian Israeli Women

2 September 2021

A study by NIF-grantee, the Adva Center – a think-and-do tank that monitors social and political developments in Israel — found that Ethiopian Israeli women face a series of discriminatory obstacles in Israel’s job market. These barriers begin with unequal educational opportunities, which ultimately lead to fewer networking opportunities, and thus narrower options for finding work. Once they enter the job market, women of Ethiopian origin are further subjected to prejudice during and after the hiring process—they receive both lower salaries than their peers as well as fewer promotion opportunities.

Israel’s Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) told the Adva Center that the greatest challenge lies with employers who have little faith in the abilities of Ethiopian Israeli women, Haaretz reported.

The research, supported by Israel’s Ministry of Science and Technology, included both first generation immigrants from Ethiopia as well as Ethiopian Israelis born in Israel. The Adva Center’s study was conducted in 2018-2019 when, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics, Ethiopian Israelis made up 1.7% of the population, or 155,300 people. Of those, half were between the ages of 25-64.

In 1995 only 20.5% of working age Ethiopian Israeli women were employed. By 2011, that number rose to 69%, and by 2016 it was 75.1%. But, even as they are working, these women are not being paid fairly. The Adva Center found that Ethiopian Israeli women earned, on average, just above the minimum wage and were mainly employed in low paying jobs in sales, services (particularly cleaning), and clerical work. Their average monthly salary was $1,755 compared with the average Israeli monthly salary of $2,670.

The Adva Center’s report recommends more government initiatives, similar to those that exist for Arab Israeli women, to help Ethiopian Israeli women. The programs they suggest include encouraging school-aged girls to pursue a wide-range of subjects, including those in STEM fields. The Adva Center’s study also highlighted the fact that there are very few teachers of Ethiopian descent in Israeli schools. According to another NIF grantee, the Association of Ethiopian Jews (AEJ), only 516 of all teachers in Israel were of Ethiopian origin, as of July 2018, and of those, only 20% had full-time positions and just 61% were employed by schools.

NIF will continue to support organizations that bring to light these alarming gaps and work for equal opportunity for all Israelis.