Do our Compensation Patterns Reflect our Values?

Do our Compensation Patterns Reflect our Values?
An Initial Analysis of the 2012 Jewish Communal Professional Compensation Survey

by Avi Herring, Justin Rosen Smolen, Tamar Snyder, Mordecai Walfish, Ruthie Warshenbrot, and Naomi Korb Weiss

In the spring of 2012, we – a group of NYU alumni, all young professionals working in the Jewish communal sector – launched a compensation survey of the field. Inspired by the Forward’s annual salary survey of executives of Jewish communal organizations, this survey was a grassroots attempt to open the “black box” surrounding compensation data up and down the Jewish professional ladder.

To our delight, the survey attracted wide-spread attention and interest, receiving nearly 1,700 responses during a period of about three weeks. Here’s a sneak peek at six key findings (the full report is scheduled to appear in the upcoming issue of the Journal of Jewish Communal Service, to be published in early 2013). Please note that, like similar studies of the field, this survey did not use a representative sample, and therefore may not fully reflect the sector as a whole.

6. The average salary of survey respondents was $66,044, with a median of $56,000. Twenty-five percent of respondents earned less than $40,000, while 25% earned more than $82,000. The top 1% earned $200,000 or more.

5. Respondents exhibited a high level of education. Among those who filled out the survey, nearly 50% of respondents have a Master’s degree and another 16% have a Ph.D., rabbinical degree or graduated from medical or law school. Those with a master’s degree earned, on average, $16,000 more than those whose highest level of education was a BA ($68,000 vs. $52,000, respectively). The highest median salary of $85,000 belonged to those holding a doctorate, medical, law or rabbinical degree.

4. Respondents were split almost in half in terms of whether they negotiated their salary, with notable differences for those who did negotiate: Those who negotiated had an average salary of $73,966, while those who did not negotiate had a salary of $58,340. In terms of which respondents negotiated, 49% did and 51% did not. Men were slightly more likely to have negotiated their salary by a margin of 54% to 48%. Among younger employees aged 23-37, the gap narrowed slightly – 51% of men in this age group negotiated their salary, compared with 49% of women.

3. The gender wage gap was evident among every age cohort of survey respondents. On average, male respondents earned $83,388, while female respondents earned $59,654. The wage gap was highest among those aged 53 to 62, with females earning, on average, nearly $57,000 less. Although the wage gap was smaller among young professionals, it was still notable. Among professionals aged 23 to 37, men earned $10,134 more than women. This comparison did not control for other factors, and there are several possible interpretations for this finding. It is possible that these younger professionals truly represent a different “cohort” and that as they gain more experience, the overall gender pay gap could narrow. However, it is also possible that this is a “lifecycle” phenomenon – when these younger professionals advance in their careers, they will begin to exhibit the same large gender pay gap as currently exists.

2. Men with dependents working full-time (35-40 hours+) make $107,030, while women with dependents working full-time (35-40 hours+) make $78,595. This may be explained, in part, by the fact that, on average, men reported working more hours than women. Men and women also differed in educational attainment. Thirty-one percent of men hold a terminal degree (Rabbinic ordination, PhD, JD, etc.), while only 10% of women hold a comparable degree. While more women than men have Master’s degrees (53% to 37%), terminal degrees have a much larger impact on salaries than a Master’s degree. Hours worked per week and education are both associated with higher salaries.

1. Men still “out-earn” women by $8,681 in the Jewish communal sector, when we held a number of important characteristics (organization size, seniority, position in organization, location of organization, hours worked, etc.) and personal characteristics (age, level of education, etc.) constant. The wage gap discovered in our study was smaller than in “Profiling the Professionals” (2010), which found a $20,000 discrepancy after controlling for other variables. It is difficult to know which estimate more accurately reflects the gender pay gap in our sector, but at the very least, we can hypothesize that the gap exists and is significant. Even if the pay gap is currently closer to our finding ($8,681), over a 40-year career, men would earn more than $350,000 more than women, controlling for all other variables.

Continue the conversation around Jewish communal professional compensation on Facebook.

We are especially grateful to our advisors, who provided invaluable feedback and advice: Pearl Beck, Ph.D., Director of Evaluation at Ukeles Associates; Shifra Bronznick, Founding President of Advancing Women Professionals and the Jewish Community; Professor Steven M. Cohen, Director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner; David M. Elcott, Ph.D., the Henry and Marilyn Taub Professor in Practice of Public Service and Leadership at NYU Wagner; and Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Executive Director, Manny Cantor Center, The Educational Alliance.

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  1. Desh says

    This is great; thank you! Do you have a list of salaries by education level, and gender wage gap breakdown by education level? Either annual or hourly salaries? Or do I have to wait for the full report?

  2. Emily says

    Do you have any information on specific areas of work and their compensation? I.e., clergy, youth professionals, synagogue professionals, communal workers, etc…

  3. Aliza Kline says

    I’d like to hear more regarding the title, “Do Our Compensation Patterns Reflect our Values?” I look forward to reading the full report and hearing the authors’ thoughts. In the meantime, I encourage spreading this article far and wide, and asking ourselves, our employees, our board members if we are perpetuating a bias against women professionals?

  4. Aliza says

    Very intersting research. Thank you. I look forward to reading the full report when it is available. Depressing that there is still such a discrepancy between men and women in the workplace. I’m glad there are organizations like Advancing Women Professionals keeping this on the agenda.

  5. Howard Wohl says

    Thank you for shedding some additional light on an area that should be of much greater interest to the Jewish Community at large. I had asserted in an article that appeared in eJP that our failure to pay Jewish professionals well reflects badly on our choices. Many of us recognize that women have entered the field in considerably greater numbers and yet very few have been given leadership positions in larger Jewish organizations. I had suggested that Jewish donors should encourage our community organizations to attract the best and the brightest. This requires professional compensation that is on par with the so-called for profit world. We cannot fault our community organizations for their failures if we starve them of the ability to attract real talent and allow them to treat all their employees on a disparate basis.

  6. Bluegrass Picker of Afula says

    it’s easy to make more money as a Jewish community worker. Learn to be an excellent welder, then get a job on one of Israel’s natural-gas drilling rigs. Believe me, you will triple your pay overnight. And that’s not chopped liver.

  7. Ann Sturman says

    #2 shows that men work more hours. How about men working more years? I worked part-time in the Jewish community for 16 years, to stay in the field AND raise my kids. My family benefited; my career and my potential earnings got trashed. It was the right decision for our family. I wonder how women like me are reflected in the study.