One striking finding of the Gender Parity Project—the largest study to date of women leading evangelical organizations (nonprofits, not churches)—is that the men in such organizations identify as egalitarians. At least when it comes to women leading in society, writ large. Janel Curry, provost of Gordon College, and Amy Reynolds, professor of sociology at Wheaton College, found in their two-year study (funded by the Imago Dei Fund) that 93 percent of the men surveyed agreed with the statement, “Men and women have freedom to pursue their gifts and callings without regard to gender roles. Men and women should share leadership roles within society.”
So why do women hold 21 percent of board positions, 21 percent of paid leadership positions, and 16 percent of CEO positions in the evangelical organizations surveyed (about half the number of women leading nonprofits broadly)? Curry and Reynolds posit that, while a few organizations explicitly say they want only male leaders, or belong to denominations that do, the problem may be that most organizations say nothing at all. “At one point we tried to look at mission statements and strategic plans . . . and it was amazing how few clearly state whether leadership positions are open to both men and women,” says Reynolds. “Given the different views in the evangelical world on this, we found that fairly troubling, that you could not find that information out.”
Still, Curry and Reynolds say that most nonprofits surveyed want more women leaders, if for pragmatic rather than theological reasons. “When we went to the Christian Leadership Alliance (CLA) conference, there was really no defensiveness about this issue,” says Curry. ...1
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Study: Where Are the Women Leading Evangelical Organizations?
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