Volunteers in feminist Organizations

Diane Metzendorf, Ram A. Cnaan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of women volunteers, a hotly debated issue among feminists in the 1970s, currently receives little attention, even in the literature. What few studies are available are often contradictory. These studies approach the issue of women volunteering from three main perspectives: (1) as a substitute for work, especially for married women, (2) as a stepping stone for reentry into the work force, or (3) as a form of exploitation. Two main groups of women volunteers are identified in the literature: middle‐ to upper‐class civic leaders and lower‐ to middle‐class service providers. In this article, we examine whether the use and management of women volunteers in feminist organizations is consistent with feminist ideology that opposes unpaid work by women. Our findings, based on a comprehensive study of fifteen feminist organizations, indicate that the use of volunteers is often contrary to feminist ideology. We conclude with a discussion of ways in which volunteer management in feminist organizations can be made more compatible with feminist ideology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-269
Number of pages15
JournalNonprofit Management and Leadership
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management


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