Gender in Jewish community organisations

Associate Professor Rebecca Forgasz and Associate Professor David Slucki
together with Dr Jordy Silverstein and Dr Karla Elliott

About the project

In 2019, the Victorian branch of the National Council of Jewish Women Australia Victoria (NCJWA Vic.) launched its gender equity campaign, #MakeSpaceForHer, which aimed to increase the representation of Jewish women within Jewish communal organisations in Victoria. Recognising that only 14% percent of the boards of Jewish organisations had a balanced gender composition, the campaign revolved around a pledge in which leaders of Jewish institutions would commit to ensuring that their structures reflected the makeup of the Jewish community, where more than half the population are women.

This project uses the NCJWA (Vic) campaign as its jumping off point to investigate the experiences of women staff and volunteers in Jewish institutions in Victoria, and to discover whether Jewish communal organisations are safe, inclusive, and equitable workplaces. We seek to better understand the challenges faced by women in a community whose institutions might have many female employees, but fall short in effectively empowering women into their leadership structures. The anecdotal evidence is vast, but we want to provide evidence-based recommendations that will allow Jewish institutions to more effectively represent their constituencies and allow for the full realisation of women’s professional capabilities and aspirations.

The aims of this project are:

  1. To review the progress and reception of the #MakeSpaceForHer campaign;
  2. To investigate the experiences and perceptions of gender equity, gender-based discrimination, gender-based harrassment, and in Jewish communal organisations;
  3. To provide an evidence base for the NCJWA (Vic.) to effect further change within Jewish organisations in Victoria and help work towards safer work and community environments.

The project is the first project to be supported by the Kerryn Baker Memorial Endowment for Gender Research, established in the ACJC in memory of the late Kerryn Baker, late wife of the former ACJC Director, Mark Baker.


Media

New endowment for gender research at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation, Monash University, 7 August 2020.

Gender on the agenda, Australian Jewish News, 11 August 2020.

When we share our stories, we gain power, Australian Jewish News, 9 October 2020.