When it comes to women in leadership positions, evangelical nonprofits lag behind their secular counterparts, according to the first wave of results of a first-of-its-kind study by Wheaton College sociologist Amy Reynolds and Gordon College provost Janel Curry.
Women represent, on average, 23 percent of paid evangelical leaders, 21 percent of boards, and 16 percent of top leaders. This lags the broader nonprofit world, where women comprise 43 percent of boards and 40 percent of CEOs.
"While this is not surprising, it is important to address," Reynolds wrote on Patheos's Black, White, and Gray. "This isn't just about the people in top leadership positions—this is about those who are the top paid leaders, and it's true about the board."
Reynolds and Curry examined more than 1,000 Christian nonprofits, mostly members of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, the Accord Network, and the Christian Community Development Association. The researchers hope to identify best practices for evangelical nonprofits to increase their gender parity.
The number of women leaders is slightly higher in social services (28 percent) and education and youth ministries (25 percent). The numbers drop when it comes to ministries (18 percent) and higher education (16 percent).
Women are more likely to be found leading organizations with budgets of $100,000 to $499,999 (38 percent) than organizations that handle more money. Their representation drops to 26 percent for organizations with budgets between $500,000 and $999,999, and sinks to 17 percent for organizations with budgets above $10 million.
Women are also more likely to lead more in small organizations. Almost 30 percent of the leaders in organizations of less than five employees are women, compared with 16 percent in organizations with more than 100 employees.
Explore the initial findings with these interactive charts.
When it comes to church settings, Church Law and Tax Report's annual study recently highlighted the gender pay gap between women and men who work in church leadership.