Tamar Snyder reports on “The Jewish Community’s $20,000 Gender Gap” (Dec. 3). I can support the survey findings by providing a personal example of the formidable challenges facing women who attempt to address this disparity.
After 19 years as director of Israel and International Affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, I researched the pay of my counterparts and found that, indeed, there was a $25,000 gap between my salary and that of male colleagues in the agency. This included variables such as my having more advanced academic degrees than the males, extensive experience in the field, and strong positive feedback on my performance from agency constituents.
The result of my request for a salary increase was that the agency terminated my employment. The “official” reason given was a “recasting” of the organization, though the position was ultimately filled by someone much younger, much less experienced and at a much lower salary. Moreover, to secure a severance package, I was put in the position of signing an agreement not to disclose the conditions of the firing, and not to bring “proceedings, action, arbitration or suit” against the JCRC.
It is years since this episode and I no longer feel bound to this silence, certainly not when such abuses persist. Women are often intimidated into remaining silent for fear that what happened to me will happen to them. I am finally in a position where, as an independent consultant outside of the Jewish organizational structure, I can no longer be threatened.
The cost of being a woman in a Jewish communal organization goes beyond the dollar terms and affects one’s professionalism, job and ultimately dignity and self-worth. It is time to move beyond surveys and break the silence.
Editor’s Note: Asked for comment, the JCRC replied:
We are troubled by Ms. Mandel’s letter, which contains allegations about which we fundamentally disagree. Nevertheless, pursuant to our general policy with regard to all aspects of our relationship with our employees, and specifically in accordance with the mutual contractual obligations undertaken with Ms. Mandel, we will continue to fully honor the confidentiality of the entire matter.
Alan S. Jaffe, President
Michael S. Miller,
Executive Vice President & CEO