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Differences in the Response of Women’s Voluntary Organizations to Shifts in Canadian Public Policy

Executive directors of 351 women’s voluntary organizations and 294 “other” (gender neutral) organizations were surveyed to gauge their responses to changing public policy in Canada. Findings indicate that although all organizations are unhappy with the current environmental shifts and pessimistic about the future, women’s organizations are more critical of policy changes and their implementation. They also feel more vulnerable and pessimistic about the future. Strategically, they are less likely to adopt a business-like competitive orientation, focusing more on fostering cooperation and collaboration. These findings support evidence in the literature that suggests that women’s organizations seek solutions that are more consistent with a collaborative model than a competitive one.They also underline that women’s organizations, often serving more marginal niches, have unique concerns and thus respond differently to environmental changes. Furthermore, the data suggest that both ideological orientation and organizational composition may play a role in differentiating between women’s and other organizations.

Credit:Agnes G. Meinhard Mary K. Foster Ryerson University

Date: 2003