The Forward’s 2013 Salary Survey, Round 1: Registering the Gender Gap

“Things gonna change; it’s apparent, and all the transparent gonna be seen through.
Let God redeem you, keep your deen true.
Watch out what you cling to; you can get the green too.  Observe how a queen do…
You could get the money, you could get the power, but keep your eyes on the final hour.” — Lauryn Hill (“Final Hour”)

Jane Eisner and her good crew at The Forward have published their fifth annual salary survey, listing the 62 top-earning executives of American, Jewish non-profit organizations and their salaries.  The main two questions emerging from these annual surveys are whether the salaries paid to our community’s leaders are appropriate, excessive, or insufficient, and why the gender gap remains so significant.

This year’s survey is accompanied, for the first time, by statistical analysis by Wharton Business School statistics Professor Abraham Wyner and his student Tamara Pier, quantifying pretty accessibly which CEO’s are overpaid in relation to the expected salary for an organization of the size they run.  Wyner and his team also tackle the gender gap, quantifying how much of it should be attributed to the fact that when women run Jewish organizations, they tend to be smaller organizations, and how much should be attributed to other factors, such as sex discrimination in salary.

For what I hope is just round one of processing of this information here in Jewschool, I’m not jumping to conclusions yet about which, if any, of the salaries on this list is excessive and what kind of waste is going on in Jewish philanthropy, etc., as I don’t feel that I have sufficient command of the market data for how much non-profit CEO’s should be paid in order to recruit top people, what salaries need to be in different cities based on cost of living, etc.

I would like to home in on the gender data, just to focus our attention toward a productive strategy conversation toward communal repair.  A few disturbing observations:

1) Of the 62 Jewish, non-profits featured here, only nine are run by women and two of those are women’s organizations (Hadassah, #22, and National Council of Jewish Women, #41).  That means that less than 12%, only seven out of the 60, top-earning, general, Jewish organizations have women at the head.

2) Only one woman cracks into the top half of those 62, Hadassah’s CEO peaking at #22.

3) Four of these women head organizations that are explicitly left or progressive (AJWS – #34, Americans for Peace Now – #45, Workmen’s Circle-Arbiter Ring – #54, and Keshet -#62), so mild kudos to the left for walking more of the walk on gender equality, but severe shame to the middle-of-the-road mainstream. Federation of San Francisco (whose female CEO is assessed to be, relatively, the fifth-most-underpaid CEO on this list), Stand with Us, and Foundation for Jewish Culture are the only gender-inclusive, centrist or mainstream organizations on this list with women as heads.

So, mainstream, secular Jewish community: a lot of you correctly excoriate the Orthodox community for its structural sexism. But really, people in glass houses should not throw stones.  The rest of the community is barely any better when it comes to real power, and might even be worse.

5 Responses to “The Forward’s 2013 Salary Survey, Round 1: Registering the Gender Gap”

  1. Apparently the number is about rise to 10, as Stosh Cotler has been tapped to succeed Alan van Capelle of Bend the Arc (#46).
    bendthearc.us/Bend-the-Arc-Promotes-Stosh-Cotler-to-CEO


    aryehbernstein · December 16th, 2013 at 12:16 pm
  2. The salary gender gap seems fairly clear by just examining the data, but I’m not sure I like the linear regression approach they use. It seems to me that, when talking about CEO salaries, it’s hard to understand why Yeshiva University & the Zionist Organization of America are in the same peer group simply by both being Jewish non-profits. I also suspect the linear fit was significant, but I’m not sure it really models the presented data. When I look at the scatter plot at forward.com/articles/189187/the-most-overpaid-and-underpaid-jewish-charity-chi/ I see two clusters of salaries.

    Organizations with $1-$10million in operating expenses have a fairly tight cluster of salaries. (The two really really big outliers in this group are the Zionist Organization of America & the Conf of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations). I don’t think a linear fit would work in this subset. That said, women’s salaries are nearer the bottom of this cluster.

    Organizations greater than $10 million in operating expenses (mostly $10-$150M) have salaries that are all over the place with much of the variation coming from the wide range of Federation director salaries regardless of Federation size. (Cleveland Fed has a $722K salary for $65M expenses vs SF Fed has a female CEO with a $322K salary for $134M expenses) I’m not sure a linear fit works here either. If one removes YU an Brandeis U, which are very different entities from the other orgs here, I’d be shocked if the fit is remotely linear anymore.

    It’s also worth noting that the major denominational organizations & most rabbinical schools have again declined to divulge their leaders’ salaries (11 men, 1 woman). This is sad on many levels.


    Dan Ab · December 16th, 2013 at 3:52 pm
  3. Also, even though accounting for women heading smaller organizations seems to even things out a bit, that adjustment itself contains gendered assumptions. Women as smaller, women belonging in the smaller spaces, smaller budgets, lesser-known, lesser seen, taking up less space, etc. There are so many troubling associations with women as “smaller” that it feels like it made the findings worse not better….


    Elana · December 17th, 2013 at 7:48 am
  4. Aryeh, I don’t think this is really so representative of the mainstream secular Jewish community. It is ironic that they often scold the Orthodox for structural sexism, then this data comes out, but I just do not feel that it represents so much of a larger group. Most secular Jews are not involved in the processes of choosing the CEOs of these organization, nor their salaries; those are chosen by a fairly small group of people. Most secular Jews have no idea who heads these organizations.


    Jon · December 17th, 2013 at 11:51 am
  5. [...] what makes for appropriate executive pay in these organizations and about the shameful, persistent gender gap in leadership and in salary.  This attention to leadership, along with the general, communal, [...]


    Lessons on “Leadership” from the Making of Moses | Jewschool · December 19th, 2013 at 8:32 pm

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