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Is There a Glass Ceiling in the Nonprofit Sector?

A broken sheet of glass.

We often hear about the lack of female leadership in the for-profit sector. But does the nonprofit sector face the same challenge?

According to a recent report commissioned by The Chronicle of Philanthropy and New York University’s George H. Heyman Jr. Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising, the answer is “yes.” Working with Harris Interactive, they surveyed 644 women who work in the nonprofit sector full-time; 44 percent think their organization favors men over equally qualified women for chief leadership positions.

Jan Masaoka, chief executive of the California Association of Nonprofits, noted that people tend to hire candidates who are like them; so if the board is predominately men, the leadership will be, too. “Boards will often spend a lot of time on the desired profile of the type of person they want in terms of skills and professional background,” said Masaok. “Then they’ll turn around and hire the people they like and they ignore the profile.”

Interestingly, while female leadership might be lacking, more and more women are entering the sector: Women make up 82 percent of employees at small organizations, 74 percent at midsize orgs, and 59 percent at large ones. And many of these women (55 percent) aspire to be leaders.

Read the rest of the report on The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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by Allison Jones

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