Nathan Grasse

Nathan Grasse, SPPA Associate Professor

SPPA Associate Professor Nathan Grasse has co-authored a new study focusing on the gender pay gap affecting two types of female executives in US charities: executive directors and chief financial officers. It uses a novel identification strategy focused on executive hires to measure the ipay differences created by effects that are “discriminatory” (unequal pay for equal work) or “sorting” (unequal representation across organizations). While the paper identifies one positive trend, namely an increase in the number of women in executive roles, it also finds gaps in pay for incoming female executives. Results suggest sorting is a critical component of executive wage inequality in US charities, with men more likely to lead the highest-paying organizations.

Some Good News, More Bad News: Two Decades of the Gender Pay Gap for Nonprofit Directors and Chief Financial Officers

Grasse, N. J., Heidbreder, B., Kukla-Acevedo, S. A., & Lecy, J. D.
Review of Public Personnel Administration, first published online May 28, 2024.


This research examines differences in the compensation of male and female executive directors and chief financial officers in nonprofit organizations. We utilize executive transition periods within organizations as an empirical strategy for isolating how gender impacts the salaries of two people who occupy the same role in the same organization. Two waves of IRS 990 compensation data are used to assess compensation practices over the past two decades. The good news includes an overall increase in the number of women holding executive positions and indications that the discriminatory component of pay (discrepancies for two people holding the same position within the same organization) is relatively small and may be decreasing. This good news, however, is accompanied by bad news: large cross-sectional gaps in pay that result from an over-representation of male executives in the largest nonprofits and those in industries with the highest executive pay.

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