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Empowering Women in Philanthropy

Funding Bias Decreases Women's Opportunities

Not only is there a gender gap in the actual number of dollars granted to nonprofit programs, but there is also a huge gender gap in the number of programs funded.

For example, YMCAs funded by United Way affiliates outnumber YWCAs two-to-one. Similarly, Boy Scout Troops funded outnumber Girl Scout Troops funded (1,355 v. 1,273), and Boys Clubs funded outnumber Girls Clubs funded (375 v. 205).

Because of legal action taken against the Michigan and California Boys' Clubs in the 1970s and 80s, many Boys' Clubs now are open to girls.

In 1990, United Way affiliates funded 553 of the Boys and Girls' Clubs (as the gender- integrated clubs are called), but 70% of the young people served by these clubs are boys.

(Empowering Women in Philanthropy, The Empowering Women Series, No. 3; A Publication of the Feminist Majority Foundation, 1991.)

Bias Jeopardizes Women's Futures

The gender disparity in non-profit aid injures women's education, health, and well-being - and even women's survival.

According to the Association of American Colleges' Project on the Status and Education of Women, women get less financial aid than men at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition, the aid given to women students is more often in the form of loans than scholarships.

According to a Department of Education study, for every dollar of financial aid that men receive, women students receive 68 cents in work/ study earnings, 73 cents in grants, and 84 cents in loans.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest U.S. source of funds for medical research, targets only 13% of its budget for research on women's health concerns.

In 1991, the NIH Office of Research on Women was established with a budget of 1.5 million-dollars, two-tenths of one percent of the total NIH budget of 8.3 billion-dollars.

Medical research too frequently excludes women. For example, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute carried out a 150 million dollar, ten-year study on cholesterol and heart disease in men only. And the landmark Physician's Health Study on the potential benefits of aspirin to prevent heart attacks used 22,000 men, and no women, as subjects.