The Mishpacha newspaper had a long article this past Tuesday on the problems that Charedi women have in finding good paying jobs. IMHO, they downplayed the major reasons Charedi women have problems:
Charedi women are almost always pregnant. If you hire a 23 year old Charedi women she probably has 1 child already and is pregnant with another. Over the next 15 years she will probably have a baby every 18 months to 2 years. This raises a number of serious issues for any employer:
- Maternity leave - Every 18 months to 2 years the woman will take off at least 3 months, the employer has to figure out how to replace her for those 3 months, it is not simple. If you have a number of Charedi women, the odds are that at any given time at least one will be out on maternity leave.
- In Israel it is practically impossible to fire a pregnant women. I saw this happen more then once where I work (a major American company with tens of thousands of employees around the world). Management decided to discontinue a product that was not selling and therefore laid off the entire team, directors, manager, programmers etc. Everyone except for the one woman who was 5 months pregnant. The company paid her not to come to work for the duration of her pregnancy she then took her 3 months maternity leave and then they paid her another 3 months until they could fire her. While no one hires employees with the intention of firing them, the ability to fire workers is important. Charedi women are very hard to fire because they are generally either pregnant or just had a baby much of the time.
- Pregnancy itself - Being pregnant is not easy (each stage has it's challenges) and there is no question that for at least some women it will affect their productivity
II. Large Families
Charedi women generally have large families and large families make it harder to work for a number of reasons:
- If you have 5, 6,7 or more kids, someone is always sick and someone needs to stay home and take care of them.
- Someone needs to watch the kids during school vacations
- School ends late afternoon, someone needs to watch the kids until teh mother gets home for work, or she needs to leave work early.
- Taking care of a large family is exhausting and a full time job.
- Travel is very difficult if not impossible.
III. It's a job not a career
Charedi women are brought up that work is a necessary evil to support their husband while learning and that they should not be career women. This means that they are generally not looking to get ahead etc. and will do their jobs but nothing more. It makes for good low level workers but does not provide much path for advancement.
Charedi women want to work in an all female Charedi environment. What that means is that they have nowhere to advance and are severely limited in what and where they can work. If a Charedi women shows great promise it is very hard to promote here because she will then have to work with men, chilonim, and non-Jews. These days the workplace is all about teamwork. If you have nothing in common and can't relate to your co-workers it is a problem.
Charedi woman may be well educated in the Beis Yaakov's but they generally don't have real academic degrees and in the secular world that is what counts. In all of the hi tech companies that I have worked for in Israel, they can't even get in the door because the minimum requirement is a degree from a University. Without a University degree they are limited to lower paying jobs.
In short, IMHO Charedi women have a hard time finding good paying jobs not because of discrimination but because of legitimate business and financial reasons. If I was running a business/managing a group, I would have a very hard time justifying hiring a Charedi woman because of all the issues mentioned above.