Do 'women of Valor' Feel More Self-Fulfilled? Gender, Religion and Work Among Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Women

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Anat GUY, Clooege of Management, Israel
Aviad RAZ, Ben Guryon University, Israel
We examine the concerted effect of gender and religion on self-fulfillment in the context of work-family balancing by looking at the case of ultra-orthodox Jewish (haredi) women in Israel, who are traditionally expected to be both mothers and breadwinners so as to allow their husbands to immerse themselves in religious studies. Recently, many of these women are seeking employment in non-traditional jobs, including the high-tech industry. We first describe survey findings showing that haredi women report the highest self-fulfillment while haredi men report the lowest. We then draw on interviews conducted with employed haredi women in order to examine the relationship between self-fulfillment and the ways in which these women experience work/family negotiations. Our findings focus on the haredi women’s distinctive solution to the work/family conflict—the valuing of family life over the pursuit of career. The conclusion offers a re-consideration of religiosity and self-fulfillment through the prism of gender, discussing how together with the potentially empowering effect of work on haredi women's subjective self-fulfillment, it is also important to consider more objectively, and from a broader social perspective, how empowering the new work arrangements actually are as they may also reproduce gender discrimination. Such a gender perspective broadens the investigation of the multifaceted contextualization of self-fulfillment and the nature of social and religious change for women