Women leaders are particularly under represented
in religious and educational charities and umbrella bodies

Clore Social Fellow, Rowena Lewis, has unveiled the findings of her research into women leaders in the U.K. social sector.

Through her report: Close to Parity: challenging the voluntary sector to smash the glass ceiling, Rowena set out to demonstrate how well the sector is doing. She unearthed some uncomfortable truths along the way.

As the sector awaits the Government’s response to the Lord Davies Review to ensure greater female representation at senior levels, Rowena asks can we afford to celebrate all we have achieved or are there skeletons lurking in our cupboard too?

The report seeks to spark debate and inspire action so that the social sector can, once and for all, lead the way to gender equality.

What the figures say:

  • The voluntary sector is the women’s sector – 68% of the workforce is female and women make up the majority of those giving both time and money. However, women are simply not making it up the ranks into leadership in the numbers; just 43% of charity leaders are female.
  • Women’s representation declines steadily as roles become more senior.
  • Women leaders are especially absent from major charities, with just 27% of female CEOs in the £10m+ bracket.
  • Women leaders are particularly under represented in religious and educational charities and umbrella bodies.
  • Female CEOs take home 16% less pay than their male counterparts, an average of £10k a year.
  • In the top 100 by income women CEOs can expect to be paid 18% less than their male counterparts, missing out on an average of £30,000 a year.

What the women say:

  • Three quarters of women leaders interviewed feel they have been treated differently because of their gender.
  • Women experiencing difficulties progressing feel they have nowhere to turn for support, particularly those women experiencing sexism.
  • Women are less visible, lacking a strong voice in the sector which sees men predominantly in speaking and spokespeople roles.
  • Structural problems such as pay, lack of flexible working and conscious and subconscious bias are keeping women from achieving CEO status.
  • Some women leaders fear a backward trend, following the ACEVO Pay Survey last November which showed a fall in women’s representation for the first time in years.
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