Nonprofit gender gap spurs project

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A new research and community awareness project set to kick off next week will aim to zero in on the gender gap in the nonprofit sector -- particularly why women nonprofit executives trail men in salaries.

The effort, called "74 percent: Exploring the Lives of Women in Nonprofits," is being launched by the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management at Robert Morris University with funding from the Bayer USA and Eden Hall foundations.

The initiative's name comes from recent research by the Bayer Center that found 74 percent of the workforce in the region's nonprofit sector was female, but men generally outpaced women in earnings. Specifically, in 2010, women executives at nonprofits earned 75 cents for every dollar earned by men and men held more of the top positions at the region's largest, best-paying nonprofits.

The project includes a research component to be based at Robert Morris University and overseen by Darlene Motley, who heads the school's department of management.

While the Bayer Center studied wage and benefit data for nonprofits for the last 10 years based on federal forms that organizations file annually, the new research will delve more deeply into "what it is about how women's lives are in nonprofits that has allowed this situation to continue," said Peggy Morrison Outon, executive director of the Bayer Center.

The research will explore the wage gap among men and women, why women aren't advancing and solutions that could improve the situation, such as teaching women better negotiation and advocacy skills. The Bayer Center plans to publish its findings and hold a symposium in the final year of the project.

In addition, an outreach effort to local corporate, nonprofit, academic and government officials will attempt to pull them into the discussion.

"We are asking them to be advisers," said Rebecca Lucore, executive director of the Bayer USA Foundation and co-chair of the 74 percent initiative. "We want them to become engaged and have a voice ... because this is a significant workforce issue for the region."

Many corporate and government officials sit on nonprofit boards or volunteer at nonprofit agencies, "so there's a lot of crossover," she said. "We have found these issues really need to be dealt with at the nonprofit board level."

The Bayer USA Foundation provided $250,000; Eden Hall Foundation declined to disclose the amount of its gift.

The project will launch at 2 p.m. Wednesday with a tea at the Rivers Club, Downtown, that will include a presentation by Sally Helgesen, a women's leadership expert and author of books including "The Female Advantage."


Joyce Gannon: jgannon@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1580.


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