It’s not that surprising that about three-quarters of the people who work in nonprofit organizations are women. It wasn’t really shocking when the Bayer Center for Nonprofit Management’s decade of research confirmed what many women already suspected: that women in the sector generally earn about 74% of what men in comparable positions earn. Numbers can depict cold realities about which some people shrug and get back to work.

The center at Pittsburgh’s Robert Morris University created the 74% project to focus both quantitative and qualitative research on women in nonprofits.

But when the center’s founding director Peggy Morrison Outon started listening to the first-person accounts of women who work in Southwestern Pennsylvania nonprofits, more than 60 women women confirmed other suspicions. She heard accounts–not only about pay inequity–but of gender and age discrimination, career stagnation, and burn-out. Outon also heard the frustration of new and seasoned employees that professional development and mentoring are not as frequently available as needed to nurture organizations that require imaginative capacity-building and problem solving from it hard-working professionals.

“The historic career path for women in nonprofit has been to change organizations in order to advance,” Outon asks. “How can women who are not able to change organizations remain optimistic, engaged and adequately compensated?”

Now stories from the 74% have been retold dramatically when acclaimed solo show actress Tami Dixon and two other performers shared highlights of Outon’s interviews in a program at Bricolage Production Company, one of Pittsburgh’s innovative theater companies.

A little imagination can ignite a story, but the audience of nonprofit leaders will be hearing the “real deal,” reviewed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Read 74% project report and research to date and download an infographic poster at the initiative’s site