Nonprofit Board Membership and the Gender Gap

Author, Researcher, or Creator

Cathryn Edelstein, Emerson CollegeFollow

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School of Communication


Communication Studies


Cathryn Edelstein

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Publication, Publisher or Distributor


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Brief Description

According to a study conducted by BoardSource and reported in, Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices (Board-Source, 2017), 72% of nonprofit CEO/Executive Director positions are held by females, while only 48% are Executive Board Members and 42% are Board Chairs. The discrepancy between the number of board positions held by women versus staff leadership positions has been the subject of many recent publications. Reviewing academic and industry literature, this paper explores the relationship between an all-male board’s choice of self-assessment tools and its decision-making processes related to creating a gender inclusive board. This paper provides additional insight by applying communication theoretical frameworks to analyze all-male board decision-making processes which ultimately affect recruitment outcomes.

Recommended Citation

Number 48 | 2020 | 13-32ISSN: 1138-33

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