Forward Thinking

Where are the Women? (Again)

By Jane Eisner

Last December, as we at the Forward were putting the finishing touches on our fourth annual salary survey of Jewish communal leadership, the Chronicle of Philanthropy asked me to write about why I have become so committed to reporting and writing about the gender imbalance in nonprofit leadership.

The short answer: Because it persists!

The longer answer is described in this essay which was published in print last month and was widely distributed online last week. In it, I explain how stunned I was when, in assuming my position at the Forward in 2008, I encountered only men running major Jewish organizations. So eager was I to meet other women leaders that I literally wrote notes to women I saw quoted in articles and asked to meet with them. (Some, happily, have become good friends.)

My personal query became a journalistic assignment: To find out who is running our communal organizations, men or women. And what do they earn?

As devoted readers know, our now-annual survey shows a persistent gap in the number of women leading the largest federations and educational, advocacy and religious institutions across the country, and a gap in what those women earn compared to men in leadership positions. This sorry situation extends from the legacy organizations that experience very little turnover to the newer progressive groups that have sprung up in the last couple of decades. And, of course, the federation system, where only one woman currently runs any of the 18 largest federations in the United States.

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