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Race to Lead: Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector

February 8, 2019

A new report reveals that women of color encounter systemic obstacles to their advancement over and above the barriers faced by white women and men of color in the nonprofit sector. Education and training are not the solution—women of color with high levels of education are more likely to be in administrative roles and are more likely to report frustrations about inadequate and inequitable salaries. BMP’s call to action focuses on systems change, organizational change, and individual support for women of color in the sector.

About 4,000 nonprofit professionals took part in the 40-page study, which was conducted by Ofronama Biu, senior research associate at Building Movement Project.  The social environments of nonprofits help explain why. Here are a few examples from the respondents:

  • “When the senior leadership identifies and grooms a colleague they think would be an impactful “face” for this organization, that person is white, male and heterosexual. In one instance, I have far more experience and education, yet am not being groomed in this way,” said a black female respondent.
  • “As a woman, I know that I don’t make the same amount of money as my male counterparts. I’m also often put into the role of serving the men. Why do you look to me to get coffee for the CEO? This isn’t ‘Mad Men’ and I’m (not) his assistant,” said another Latinx woman survey respondent.
  • “I perceive that I am often not taken seriously in community spaces, especially in public policy situations. My delivery is often seen as being aggressive and my ideas aren’t seen as being credible. People, especially men, talk down to me and only hear my ideas when they’re repeated by other people. I think it limits my ability to advance my goals and get the work done,” an Arab-American woman respondent reported.
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