The gender pay gap is wide in Alaska’s nonprofit industry. How can it be narrowed?

Downtown Anchorage, as seen from the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail in April, 2020. (Abbey Collins)

A new report shows a significant gender pay gap among nonprofit workers in Alaska.

The Foraker Group recently released a study on nonprofit wages. It finds that, on average, women in Alaska’s nonprofit industry earn 79 cents for every dollar a man earns. 

Seventeen percent of Alaska’s workforce is employed by the state’s nonprofit industry. 

A Pew Research report found that in 2018, women in the United States earned 85% of what men earned. Across all industries in Alaska, the most recent data shows women earn 72% of male earnings. 

Foraker President and CEO Laurie Wolf says the findings aren’t surprising but they’re particularly important right now, as the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to widen the gap further. 

“Our family friendly workplaces have become our homes,” said Wolf. “And so many women are having to leave the workforce, because trying to be a second grade teacher and a fourth grade teacher and a tenth grade teacher while also holding a full-time job, while also – it’s just not a viable option for so many.”

This data comes from the state Department of Labor, quarterly reports from employers, and information recorded on applications for the Permanent Fund Dividend. Wolf says it is a powerful tool, but it’s not all-encompassing, in part because the PFD application only allows residents to choose a male of female gender. 

“It’s not a perfect tool, but it is a better tool than we’ve had before,” said Wolf. “And most importantly, it opens up the conversation to really talk about what are the things that we can really do to help fix the gender pay gap.”

Foraker lays out steps that can be taken to narrow the pay gap, including promoting pay transparency, creating family-friendly policies and building a diverse board.