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Gender gap narrows for nonprofit CEOs' pay

Friday, Jan. 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The gap between salaries of women and men who lead nonprofit groups in the region narrowed during the decade from 2002 to 2011, but the disparity persists and even widened a little in the past two years, according to a study released on Friday.

Female executive directors made an average of 74 cents for every dollar their male counterparts made, reports the 2012 Wage and Benefit Survey of Southwestern Pennsylvania Nonprofit Organizations. In 2002, the gap was 67 cents on the dollar; in 2010, it was 75 cents.

“Women are making progress in Pittsburgh, as they are around the country, in pay equity issues,” said Peggy M. Outon, executive director of the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management.

But, she said, “it seems to be a dogged concern that we can't make this pay equity gap shrink more quickly.”

The Bayer Center is sponsoring a national symposium and researching the tax returns of nonprofit groups to address the income gap, Outon said.

“We're truly taking this challenge to change the way women are treated as nonprofit employees as our personal challenge.”

The survey is the sixth biennial wage and benefit study sponsored by the Bayer Center at Robert Morris University and the United Way of Allegheny County. The latest report collected data from 153 nonprofit groups of various sizes, employing 12,293 workers.

The gap mirrors the national outlook. The GuideStar 2012 Nonprofit Compensation Report shows that male nonprofit CEOs out-earn female counterparts by an average of 10 to 25 percent a year, depending on the size of the organization.

Why the gap persists is unclear.

“One of the reasons why women might still be under in their salary is because (female nonprofit executives) don't know what the competitive salaries are, so we're not asking for enough,” said Shirl Regan, president and CEO of the Women's Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh in the East End.

“The Bayer study helps make that information public. It's up to our board to address these issues,” she said.

For her nonprofit, the study prompted some change. It provided benchmarks for employees' pay, including Regan's. She received a raise as a result, though she said she could not remember how much. She made $112,686 in pay and $11,651 in other compensation in fiscal 2012, the group's tax return shows.

The pay gap for female executives in nonprofits is “still a gap, and it's still not OK,” Regan said.

Kathleen Hower, CEO of Global Links in Garfield, said women need to be better negotiators to improve their salaries. She said she makes $64,000 a year.

Hower said women may be held back by the traditional thought that men are breadwinners of the family. Hower has not pressed for higher wages for herself because she founded the nonprofit, which sends donated medical supplies to countries that need them.

“I turned down some salary increases to ensure my staff had more,” she said.

Bob Nelkin, president of the United Way chapter, suggests nonprofit groups encourage women to become executives by giving them flex time and more time off for family emergencies during child-bearing years.

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for TribTotal Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7828 or



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