A Casting Call for Leading Ladies
They say it's lonely at the top, and I certainly never planned to find myself there. However, after just a few years as an English professor at a community college, some unexpected circumstances led me to serving as its vice president.
Eager to grow into the effective, inspirational leader I believe God wanted me to be, I looked around for advice and inspiration from people in my situation. Like any good academic, I headed to the library, searched the Internet, and scoured Amazon for information about Christian women in secular leadership positions.
You'd think I was seeking the Holy Grail. I found pages and pages of Christian books by men on leadership, but the few by women focused on ministry. On the secular side, there were barely any more options, save Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. To date, I have not identified one book that is specifically for Christian women leaders in the business world.
Last month's issue of Harvard Business Reviewspotlighted women in leadership, and I believe Christian women face unique challenges in these positions, ones the Christian community should be exploring as well. While only 4.2 percent of Fortune 1000 companies boast a female CEO, slightly more than half of all management and professional positions are held by women, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It stands to reason that some of these women must be Christians.
Certain professions, such as those in the health and education sectors, seem more open to women in leadership—as evidenced by the number of female principals, superintendents, vice presidents, and administrators. Among these, we see Christian women who take their faith seriously, who view their job as a calling, and who want to lead in a way that honors God. I know they're out there because I am one of them.
Of course, depending on our views of gender roles, some argue that women should not be in secular leadership positions, particularly where they lead men and women. If that's true, though, where do we draw the line? To echo Abraham's conversation with God regarding Lot (Gen. 18:22-32), if you supervise 50 people, does that make you a leader? What about 25? What about 10? What about 1? While many evangelicals maintain that men should remain leaders of their household, Pew Research found that they show strong support women working outside the home. Unless we relegate women to holding only entry-level, non-supervisory positions, it's inevitable that some will take on leadership roles.
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