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Monday, November 08, 2010

2nd Monday Discussion: Women in Leadership

One of our original ring members, Linda, who blogs at Against a Brick Wall, is now director of student recruitment at Phillips Theological Seminary, and is asking for our help. She writes:

I agreed to help our DMin committee collect some input from women clergy on the formation of a new specialization in our program.  The new specialization will focus on Women in Leadership, with a broader focus of investigating how to support and encourage women in all areas of leadership within in the church.  We are wanting to see who might be interested in such a specialization and if so, what would make such a program attractive to them. We've put together a brief survey using Survey Monkey that we will distribute in a number of venues.
I am wondering if the Rev Gals would consider posting a link to the survey on the RevGal blog, inviting members to take the survey.  I really do think this might be a program that is of interest to others within the webring, but we would also highly value the input from this group of women and those who support them.

I'm delighted to share the survey link with the ring, and to ask a couple of questions for our own comment thread here:

1) As a woman in ordained or lay ministry, what has been the most important thing you've learned about leadership?
2) How have you been encouraged?
3) What challenges have you faced as a woman leader?

Join the conversation by leaving a comment. Thanks!


  1. I haven't exactly faced any challenges yet, with the exception of the fact that it is harder for a woman to even get a call in the first place. It's been an issue at every church I've interviewed with - 'we've never had a woman pastor before."

    However, I was at a synod conference meeting last week, and sat with a couple from a church that called it's first woman pastor a year ago. They wanted to know if my seminary did anything to prepare women for the particular challenges they face in ministry. Intriqued, I asked them to tell me what they had observed.

    The primary challenge they mentioned is that the female pastor will have a conflict with one of the church matriarchs within the first year. (I told them that this is true of the male pastors as well, but the dynamics of the conflict is different and likely not noticed as much). They also mentioned the authority issue: "a woman pastor can say the same thing as a male pastor, but the reaction when she says it is, 'where does she get off saying that to us.'" I can't remember the rest of the things they mentioned, but those were the two biggest ones they were concerned with.

  2. Great topic. I'm going to head over and take that survey now!

  3. Thanks so much to all who took the time to complete the survey. We're grateful for the input...very substantive and helpful! There's plenty of time to participate, if you haven't already!

  4. I agree with the folks Ramona spoke with that men "get away" with stuff that women don't. When they do it it's "strong leadership"; when I do it it's "being dictatorial". It took me a while to figure out that was what was going on. (Actually, I didn't; my regional minister pointed it out.)

    I have not had the problem with matriarchs myself, but I think I hobbled myself early on because I kept expecting to.

    I also didn't have the problem of the congregation never having had a woman pastor before, although previously, they had just been interims.

    I think women pastors can be especially great for churches that need something different. That is, in situations where there has been a particularly polarizing pastor or a sainted one who passed away. It's just harder to compare a woman pastor to male predecessors.

    I also find that congregations appreciate the things that women pastors do that most males pastors don't, attending to little details that might otherwise go undone.

    Our denomination has some little booklets floating around created by lay people from a variety of congregations that have called women about the experience. It is given to search committees as they get started, as a way of opening minds. Obviously, that's something the gatekeepers to search committees have to buy into.

    About the survey, you should make clear at the beginning that you're going to ask for names. Some people prefer to take surveys anonymously or would shift their answers a little if they know they have to put a name.


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