Female rabbis in the Conservative branch of Judaism earn significantly less than their male peers, occupy fewer senior positions and are more likely to work part time, according to a study of gender inequities released yesterday.
The study by the Rabbinical Assembly, an association of 1,550 Conservative rabbis, found that the mean total compensation of rabbis ordained since 1985 is $119,000 for men and $77,000 for women.
Moreover, the study found that female rabbis are paid less than men in comparable jobs -- even after controlling for the size of the synagogue and number of hours worked. Among full-time rabbis who lead congregations with fewer than 250 members, for example, women earn an average of $21,000 less than men.
Rabbi Joel Meyers, the Rabbinical Assembly's executive vice president and highest full-time officer, called the findings disturbing and pledged to lead "aggressive efforts . . . to ensure a level playing field" for women in the Jewish clergy.
"Other professions have reported similar data, which tells us we're not unique," Meyers said. "I hoped we were better."
The study is the first to focus on the gender gap in any branch of Judaism. Orthodox Jews do not have women rabbis. But women are common in Reform and Reconstructionist pulpits. The Conservative movement began ordaining women in 1985 and has 177 female rabbis, 11 percent of its total. A third of the women work part time, compared with 3 percent of men.