Something Doesn’t Add Up: Why the Lack of Women on Boards? Part 2 

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Gender diversity on nonprofit boards outshines that of corporate boards. According to the Nonprofit Governance Index, 45% of nonprofit board members were women, compared to the 16% of women on corporate boards.

Given that approximately 74% of the nonprofit workforce is female, what do women think about the representation of women on nonprofit boards? The Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Lack of Women in Top Roles Hinders Nonprofits, Female Nonprofit Workers Say shares results from a recent poll which surveyed 650 women working in nonprofits.

The survey reveals confidence and drive among women in nonprofits: 57% of women who were not already CEOs aspire to lead a nonprofit.

With such a large proportion of women nonprofit workers eager to serve, why are they still the minority on boards? According to the survey, 44% of female nonprofit workers feel their organizations favor men over equally qualified women.

Experts like Jan Masaoka, chief executive of the California Association of Nonprofits, say board makeup may be reflected in staff appointments: “People who make hiring decisions … tend to gravitate toward candidates who are like them. So when the board is largely male, the leaders those boards choose are more likely to be men.”’s Study Finds Corporate Board Diversity Stagnant: Are Nonprofits Similar? explored this idea with Vernetta Walker, VP of consulting and training at BoardSource. Before equity and increased diversity can take full effect, communication about the issue must improve:

“Step one, we have to do a better job communicating and having the conversations that go deeper than the surface level to find out what our barriers [to inclusion] are and how we connect diversity and inclusion to our mission.”

A lack of female leadership and representation is consistent throughout history. Take a long, hard, and honest look at your organization’s leadership and evaluate trends that may exist in the hiring process.

How does, or how will, your organization address barriers to inclusion? Let us know!

In case you missed it, Part 1 of this post can be found HERE.

For more on women on boards and leadership, check out Study Finds Corporate Board Diversity Stagnant: Are Nonprofits Similar?, Lack of Women in Top Roles Hinders Nonprofits, Female Nonprofit Workers Say, and 20/20 Women on Boards: Why Gender Diversity Matters