I was surprised to see yesterday that my name showed up a list of 101 Christian Women Speakers compiled by Rachel Held Evans. Surprised and, let's be honest, grateful and flattered and a little bit relieved too. And again, in the name of honesty, I am drawing your attention to this list in part because I am on it. But I am also drawing your attention to this list because the 100 other women are so worth knowing about.
It all began a few weeks ago when Evans drew attention to the lack of female Christian leaders represented at "The Nines Conference." I confess: I had never heard of the Nines, so I wasn't sure what all this ruckus was about. But Jonathan Merritt then did some investigating about Evans' tweet (in which she wondered why only 4 of 100 speakers at the conference were women). And the result was Merritt's data that suggests not only did the Nines fail to represent women fairly but so also did most Christian conferences.
In response to all this back and forth, Evans decided to compile her own list. Now, there are people who should be on this list who aren't. Perhaps there are people who shouldn't be on this list who are, though when I read it through, I was nodding my head to every woman I knew or had heard of or read who Evans had included. Lauren Winner, Anne Lamott, Marilynne Robinson, Caryn Rivadeinera, Helen Lee, Nicole Baker Fulgham, Kate Harris, and more. To me, the list matters not because of the individual names on it but because it demonstrates the voice women can and do have within our culture (and not just within Christian culture).
What's even better is the discussion that ensued on a writers' Facebook group that followed in which multiple other names were mentioned. Sure, Evans missed plenty of people. She admits as much in her introduction. But what encouraged me was the effort Evans put in to drawing public (and Christian) attention to the women who have a voice, a strong and powerful and increasing voice, in teaching and preaching and speaking.