Why is it that so few women are ordained in their 20s?
OK, so the age of ordinands in the Church of England, both men and women, had been going up and up until recently. But there are still more young male ordinands than young female ordinands. And I suspect the pattern is similar in other denominations.
Few women are ordained in their 20s, and not that many in their 30s. The latest (2008) stats for the Church of England show that there are only 15 (women) parochial clergy under the age of 30 (13 of them curates), and only another 167 under the age of 40 (68 incumbent/incumbent status and 99 curates).
This has all sort of implications. The needs of women ordained in their 20s are different from those ordained later. And the dearth of women ordained at this age may partly account for the lack of women in senior posts or leading larger churches. Even if they come to ordination with leadership experience, clergy need a measure of experience within the Church before taking on a more demanding senior post.
I can understand both the issue and the concerns. I was ordained at age 37. It had taken me quite a while to even consider it (confidence was one issue). And then there were those who said that women could not be ordained (or could not be leaders) because the Bible said so; it took me quite a long time to get my head around that, especially in the light of so few resources from an egalitarian perspective.
I wonder what others think (and if you've accessed this through the CPAS website, and can't comment, you can email me direct, or find the blog independently, until we fix the problem!)...
If you're reading this thinking, 'I wonder if God is calling me to be ordained?' there are a variety of events which can help. If you're between the ages of 16-30 you may be interested in 'Step Forward', an event at Cranmer Hall, Durham on 6th February; Tom Wright, the Bishop of Durham is speaking and there will be various workshops during the day. If you can't get to Durham, CPAS run regular 'You and Ministry' weekends for anyone who is exploring vocation; I'm also available to give vocations advice to women.
We all have a part to play in encouraging younger women to think about ordination (or leadership in our own denomination): as role models, as mentors, by giving them opportunities to develop as leaders, or with a tap on the shoulder.