It was a conference for women leaders, and what a gathering it was! Fourteen bishops from around the world, a good number of archdeacons, and other women from around the country. We were all meeting to explore women's leadership, in the light of progress towards women becoming bishops in the Church of England - even if, in real terms, that still seems light-years away!
Topics covered vocation and ambition; theological education; power and authority. In addition to some stimulating sessions, there were lots of fascinating people to catch up with, or meet for the first time.
Briefly, some observations which I gleaned:
- Lack of confidence is a common issue for women leaders
- Women are in a double bind: needing to prove our competence, but then often seen as losing femininity
- Leadership is about service, not about power and ambition
- Women bring to leadership their sense of fragility, reminding us that it is not our leadership but God's.
- We can be encouraged by remembering the 'great cloud of witnesses' - of women leaders in the history of the Church
- We need to foster our own leadership development and that of others.
That's just for starters! Plenty to ponder, and I shall continue to do that...