Before settling on the idea that I simply had to write the State of Clergywomen Report fully — in what became a comprehensive document of 20 pages — I tried to make the findings available in an article. That article did not immediately find a published home. However, it is now forthcoming in the journal CrossCurrents, as part of a volume about theological education.
Women called to ministry are surrounded by a “culture of disbelief” in America. Their pathways to ordination and service remain an uphill climb. Nevertheless, more and more women are entering ministry, in some denominations tripling the numbers in the last two decades. That growth is documented here for the first time. Curiously women’s overall seminary enrollment remains at the same level as twenty years ago. A closer look reveals that more women of color and fewer white women are enrolling in seminary. Despite overall growth, the culture of disbelief does not evaporate for women with an MDiv, ordination, or even a job as pastor. To resist the culture of disbelief and reduce the load women carry uphill in ministry, churches and seminaries can commit to three vital steps: 1) educate everyone about implicit gender bias; 2) create supportive workspaces, and 3) focus on ministry purpose, not image perception.
If you wish to share data from this study, please navigate over to the State of Clergywomen Report, where you can sign up, receive a code in your email, and download your copy. The most up-to-date statistics are in the 2018 report.