Gender Inequality in Charity

Last week, I had the good fortune to attend a screening of the film Miss Representation, which is about gender inequality.

Women in charity

Gender Inequality In Charity

The moment I found most striking was not during the movie, but during the introduction. One of the event organizers gave the mostly-female crowd the call to action to get involved with non profit organizations around town.

This in spite of the fact that the movie hardly mentioned nonprofits or charity. It highlighted women’s under-representation and misprepresentation in media, entertainment, business, and government.

Although there’s evidence that¬†women charity professionals face similar challenges to equal treatment and pay as they deal with in other areas, in terms of sheer numbers, they aren’t underrepresented in the field. As author Dan Pallotta reminds us in this article, studies have shown that a whopping 70% of charity workers are women.

There was a panel discussion after the movie, and I felt compelled to comment. As I said then, the call to action of the event organizer reflected a general societal dysfunction. It’s as if society is a house, and charity is the kitchen. When women want to make a contribution, that’s traditionally where they’re expected to go.

One of the panelists, Brittney Le Blanc, responded by expressing her frustration with the common equation of women’s issues and reproductive issues. Another panelist, Paula Simons, agreed, saying that all issues are women’s issues, that women should be fully engaged in every sphere of public life.

I heartily agree. We should resist the subtle push towards charity as the default option for making a difference. We should all (men and women) choose the sector or approach that affords us the best chance of creating the change we believe in. And since the charitable sector is already stuffed full of women, I think it’s time more of them (us) got out of the kitchen and got moving in some other rooms.


  1. Colette December 4, 2012 at 9:48 am - Reply

    I really like the kitchen analogy.

  2. […] Nadine Riopel saw Miss Representation a few weeks back, which inspired her to write about women in non-profit and “women’s issues” in general. […]

Leave A Comment