If you go to your local Jewish community center, the employees you meet there are more involved in Jewish life and more likely to stay at their job than their counterparts in recent decades.
But if the employee you meet is a woman, she probably earns a smaller salary than a man in a comparable position.
Those are among the findings of “Centering on Professionals: The 2001 Study of JCC Personnel in North America,” a study of some 1,800 JCC staffers released this week by the Florence G. Heller-JCC Association Research Center.
According to the report, written by Steven M. Cohen and Judith Schor, a higher proportion of the JCC pros in the study belong to a synagogue (69 vs. 44) or fast on Yom Kippur (83 vs. 63) than the American Jews studied in the 1990 National Jewish Population Survey.
The JCC workers are “highly involved in Jewish life, much more than the general Jewish population,” says Cohen, who teaches Jewish education at Hebrew University. “They are much more in-married. They are much more involved with Israel. This is a cultural, Jewish professional core.”
While the percentage of women working in JCCs has increased slightly from 1987, the last time a similar study was conducted, and while women hold 26 percent of executive director positions, more than four times the 1987 figure, there is still a comparable gender gap in earnings — male executive directors make $17,429 more than female executive directors. The differential for other positions ranges from $22,290 for assistant executive director/branch director to $676 for department directors.
The gap reflects an ongoing phenomenon in wider American society, and is “probably smaller” in the JCC movement, Cohen says. “Basically, women” in the American workplace “are in a weaker bargaining position” for salaries, often “making the second salary in a home,” and following their husbands to their jobs, he says.
The survey findings, distributed to JCC leaders, is certain “to motivate the national system and the local JCCs to respond,” to work for more equitable salaries, Cohen says.