Nonprofits with bigger budgets are more likely to have male CEOs. Only about one in five nonprofits with an annual budget of $50 million or more are run by women; meanwhile, nonprofits that have an annual budget of $1 million or less hire women as CEOs at an equal rate to that of men.

Young-Joo Lee, Director of the Master’s Program in NonProfit Management at the University of Central Florida, summarizes her study in this article published in The Conversation:

Although about three out of every four Americans working for nonprofits are women, men hold a disproportional share of the highest-paid nonprofit jobs.

What’s more, the share of women in top management jobs decreases as an organization’s budget increases. Feeding America CEO Claire Babineaux-Fontenot was the only woman named as being among the highest-paid executives leading one of the nation’s 10 top charities in 2018, according to a Forbes ranking. Men were running the rest, including Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity.

Because I research both nonprofit management and gender inequality in the workplace, I wanted to learn more about the gender disparity in nonprofits’ top management.

When I analyzed the 2015 tax returns of 340 human service organizations with budgets of US$10 million or more, I found that only 35% of them had female CEOs, even though women make up the vast majority of their staff. Among nonprofits with budgets of $50 million or more, the share of female CEOs was even lower – 20%.

I also found that the scarcity of women in top management positions in high-budget nonprofits explains a large part of the disparity.

In other words, the gender pay gap had more to do with the lack of female CEOs in larger organizations than it did with high-ranking male nonprofit executives outearning their female peers when they are in charge of nonprofits of approximately the same size.