Haredim in high tech: Women outnumber men 2 to 1

Gavan Tzruya

Only 6,000 of Israel's 300,000 high tech employees are haredim.

Women have trouble getting hired in high tech; two thirds of the employees in this sector are men, and only one third women. Figures reported this week, however, indicate that the situation of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) women is improving: 4,000 of them are employed in high tech, compared with only 2,000 haredi men. High tech employees in Israel total 300,000.

Gavan Tzruya, who probed the inclusion of haredi women in high tech, said this week, "Israel should arrange more jobs for haredim, especially women." Her study was presented at the "Between Integration and Separation - Haredi Women Programmers in Haredi Centers and Secular Organizations" conference at Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Ben Gurion University Prof. of Sociology and Anthropology Aviad Raz was responsible for the research and the conference.

The study examined the differences in satisfaction and burnout among 120 haredi women. Tzruya distinguished between women working in high-tech companies integrating secular and haredi employees and specifically haredi companies. Among the study's principal findings were that satisfaction and commitment were higher to some extent in haredi organizations (except for salary; according to Tzruya haredi women in integrative organizations earn 90% more on the average than women in specifically haredi organizations). The figures show that the optimal route for high-tech haredi women begins in a haredi organization, after which they can advance and fit into integrative organizations.

"A national challenge"

The trend towards integrating haredim in high tech has been gathering steam in recent years. More and more examples of daring startup entrepreneurs from the sector are visible, in addition to major high-tech firms (such as Intel) hiring haredi men and women, and regarding this as important.

Tzruya, a strategic consultant at a large bank, began doing research after deciding "to do something social," as she put it. She says, "I know the high-tech world from close up, because I'm married to someone in high tech ( Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP) partner Yoav Tzruya, S.D.). I'm studying at Ben Gurion University, and the subject of organizational culture interests me. I took up the integration of haredi women because I think it's a national challenge. Haredi society is doubling in size every decade, so if we don't make sure soon that there are more jobs, and it's best that they be in high tech, we'll have a big problem in the future." According to Tzruya, as of now, not enough is being done, among other things because the goal of integrating haredi women stands at 63% (for the entire economy, not just in high tech), while in practice, 75% of them work. "There's a catch, though," she emphasizes. "The vast majority of them work only part time, and one third work in education within their community. So even if the targets have been achieved, their actual productivity potential has not been realized, and is certainly not optimal. There is no support or scholarships in the haredi sector for women engineering technicians who want to go on studying, because the state has 'achieved the targets,' and there is ostensibly no need."

"Globes": Do you recommend integration or separation in studies and training?

Tzruya: "There is no textbook answer to this question. A model that combines both of them is needed. In my opinion, first degrees should be with separation - and here I'm talking about both men and women in the haredi sector. Integration has to be for more advanced degrees, because they involve people who have already been exposed to the labor market."

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 12, 2016

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2016

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Gavan Tzruya
Gavan Tzruya
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