Gender Inequality in Nonprofits

2016-03-30 09.09.10
Amanda Neumann

In many ways, the nonprofit field is ahead of the game in terms of gender equality in hiring. According to GuideStar women make up 74% of the nonprofit workforce, which is significantly higher than many professional fields.

Women also have a major role in nonprofit leadership positions and board membership. Women hold 57% of the chief-executive positions at organizations with budgets of less than 1 million and according to a study published in Nonprofit Quarterly, women comprise 43 percent of the membership of nonprofit boards.

It is apparent that women make up a huge portion of the nonprofit sector. However, recent studies show that regardless of the continuously growing number of women in the nonprofit field, there is still a large gender pay gap.

How does gender inequality present itself in nonprofits?

  • Among non-profits with budgets in excess of $25 million, women constitute only 21 percent of leadership roles even though they make up 75 percent of the workforce (x)
  • Women earn significantly less than men in all [nonprofit] job categories and although women were more likely to head smaller organizations, even when factoring in organization size, women earn less (x)
  • Female Chief Development Officers (CDOs) are paid approximately 12% lower salaries than male CDOs—even after  controlling for a wide range of organizational and individual variables, including dollars raised by the organization (x)
  • Women held 57 percent of the chief-executive positions at organizations with budgets of $1-million or less but only 38 percent of the top positions at organizations with budgets of more than $1-million (x)

Some of the most pertinent information regarding gender inequality in the nonprofit field includes studies done by The Women’s College of the University of Denver and The White House Project, GuideStar, and The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

What can your organization do?

Diversity in nonprofit boards and staff is becoming an increasingly important issue. Racial, ethnic, generational, gender, and professional diversity are all key to creating and maintaining successful organizations.

Some easy steps to ensuring your organization is working towards eliminating gender inequality include:

  • Educating board members and staff about gender bias and creating strategies to counteract it
  • Surveying employees to gain a better understanding of how the organization encourages, or discourages, diversity
  • Evaluating current staff and board demographics 
  • Conducting an equal pay audit to ensure equal pay practices 

How is your organization faring in terms on gender diversity and equality?



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