You might think that the nonprofit sector, with its general focus on progressive policy, might avoid at least some of the ill treatment of women in its workforce. But new data shows that, just like in the private sector, female CEOs at nonprofits are still being paid far less than men in the same roles. And despite the attention that the problem of the wage gap has received, the disparity is barely improving: It’s just slightly less than it was last year.

These numbers come from the GuideStar’s 2017 Nonprofit Compensation Report, which culled data from the publicly submitted 990 tax forms of roughly 96,7000 separate groups. Compared to survey results published last year, the gender-based wage gap dropped from 8% to 7% at organizations with budgets of $250,000 or less. But for those organizations with far larger budgets, at the $50 million or greater level, the problem is much greater: Male CEOs still make 21% more, though that’s down from 23%. And groups with budgets between $10 and $25 million saw the compensation gap actually inch upward from 20% to 21%. (The report highlights shifts from 2014 to 2015, as that’s the most current analysis available.)

Part of the issue may be who is controlling the purse strings. As Fast Company has reported, 75% of the nonprofit field may be female, but only 45% of women move up to become CEOs. Within the top-funded charitable groups–about 15% of the industry operates on $10 million or more–that leadership ratio has dropped to less than 33%

The good news is that more women appear to be taking control of those groups’ futures. Over a decade, the number of groups employing female leaders has risen throughout the sector, regardless of budget size. It’s 22% among those with budgets at $50 million or above, yet 57% among those in the $500,000 or less zone. That’s up from 14% and around 53% or 54% (the survey breaks groups below $500,000 into two categories, either above or below $250,000), respectively.

One classic explanation of the unequal wage problem is that once it starts, it snowballs. A woman who is paid less at the start of her career may share her salary with future employers, only to command less as she advances, perpetuating the cycle.

One way to fix that is to pay everyone the same based on a job’s description, not pro-rate salary based on previous pay levels. Another is spelled out pretty clearly in this data: the places where more women are in charge have seen the most equalization over time. The opposite is true in male-dominated categories.

Female Nonprofit CEOs Still Get Paid Way Less Than Male CEOs


“Women still represent the majority of CEOs at smaller organizations,” notes the report. And yet: “The gap is smaller at organizations with budgets of less than $500,000, but shows no clear trend of abating at larger organizations.”