In 2018, I set out to publish findings about the state of clergywomen in the U.S. I was aiming to fill a 20-year data gap. However, the article I wrote got a chilly reception. I could not find a home for it.
Soon I figured out that I simply needed to write the State of Clergywomen Report as a full 20-page update. Nevertheless, I persisted, and the original piece is now available 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.
And by the way, the published article did pretty well for itself in the last few months:
Download No Joke the Submitted Version as a PDF.