Gender and Government Procurement in Israel: How Do Privatization Contracts Promote Gender Inequality?

Thursday, 19 July 2018
Distributed Paper
Orly BENJAMIN, Bar Ilan University, Israel
In contemporary public administrations worldwide, principles of marketization and managerialization are held applicable throughout the social services: education, welfare and healthcare. The applications of the marketization and managerialization toolkit was recently examined, showing that the applied practices of quasi-marketization reduce levels of professionalization and knowledge preservation across various services. The deterioration of job quality and service quality that occurred in this context was already dealt with. However, the gendering impact of these processes is still somewhat blurred because of the failure to include the different stand points of the women who are exposed to its impact. Here, I examine the gendering impact of the contracting out of Israeli services from three distinct women’s stand points: professional women employed as administrators shaping services contracts (17 interviews) whose professional knowledge is undermined in the contract design; contracted out services’ employees whose skills are not recognized leaving their level of remuneration very low (45 interviews); and, finally the stand point of low income mothers who depend on services for their work life balance but are unable to trust their quality (60 interviews). Three processes have emerged from a grounded theory analysis which the interview material was subjected to: firstly, contract design is based on a rhetoric of dialogue which disguises a forceful erasure of professional knowledge in the area of care; secondly, an ambivalence emerged to reflect the making of privatized entitlement where employees insist of valuing their work in the context of deskilling and devaluing but they their sense of entitlement does not help negotiate their jobs quality. Finally, low income mothers whose young children rendered them dependent on health, welfare and education services described the incongruity between the needs of their children and accessible services. I discuss the gendering impact of each of these processes and its contribution to gender Inequality.