Privileged but Equal? A Comparison of U.S. and Israeli Notions of Sex Equality in Employment Law
Ever-expanding media coverage, scholarship, and popular publications discussing the difficulty of combining work and family suggest that this issue is now the essential locus for gender debate in the United States. The essence of the debate is the meaning of equality: whether it carries the same meaning for women and men, whether biological and sociological differences should impact the understanding of equality, and whether law and social policy should reflect or encourage these differences. Privileged but Equal details the theory of sex equality that is embodied in Israeli employment law and contrasts it with the U.S. approach. The Article suggests that the Israeli system employs an “equality through difference” model, which approves of special treatment for women in the form of privileges, options, and exemptions so that women who maintain primary responsibility for family and home have greater opportunities to enter and succeed in the workplace. The Article explores the historical circumstances, societal needs, and cultural pre-dispositions that have shared in creating the Israeli conception of sex equality in an effort to determine whether Israel’s approach or any of its parts would be palatable, appropriate, or vastly unworkable in the United States.