The Gender Gap in Jewish Nonprofit Leadership: An Ecosystem View
September 9th, 2021
Qualitative research into people’s experiences and expertise helped Leading Edge and The Starfish Institute posit 71 causes to the persistent gender gap in top leadership at Jewish nonprofits; quantitative network analysis suggested five “keystones” among them.”Keystone” is a technical term, short for “keystone species.” The Starfish Institute borrows this term from the science of ecology, in which “a keystone species is an organism that helps define an entire ecosystem. Without its keystone species, the ecosystem would be dramatically different or cease to exist altogether.” (National Geographic.) In the ecosystem of factors mapped in this report, keystones are factors that have high “reach,” which means they affect many other issues, and high “leverage,” which means they are influenced by few others. Solving them may be difficult, but doing so could create a large ripple effect on other causes of the problem.
Most people working at Jewish nonprofits are women. But most CEOs of Jewish nonprofits— especially at the largest organizations—are men. In 2019, Leading Edge launched an investigation to better understand why that is, and how the field might begin to change it.
In this exploration, Leading Edge partnered with The Starfish Institute, an organization that has developed a methodology for applying network science to understanding complex social problems at a systemic level. Together, over the course of 18 months, Leading Edge and The Starfish Institute engaged over 1,200 people to define as many distinct causes of the persistent gender gap in top leadership at Jewish nonprofit organizations as they could identify. They then mapped how those causes likely interact with one another as an ecosystem.
“The Gender Gap in Jewish Nonprofit Leadership: An Ecosystem View,” Leading Edge in partnership with The Starfish Institute, August 2021
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