Thursday, 25 February 2010

The Stained Glass Ceiling

I've just been reading a great article by Michele Guinness in the March issue of Christianity Magazine.

It's the cover article, and the subtitle on the cover reads, 'Why women leaders are still trapped.' You can read the opening paragraphs by following the link to the magazine here.

The article explores the 'mixed picture' in the Christian world: some progress, with young women moving into signficant leadership roles and several women leading large Anglican churches. On the other hand, evangelical Anglican colleges are finding it harder to place women as curates in evangelical churches, and some women find the situation no better, and sometimes worse, than it was 30 years ago. One consequence of all this that women seem to be leaving the church.

Guinness suggests four reasons why women don't feel able to live out their calling: male leadership models, lack of knowledge of women speakers, lack of visible role models, and work and family life. I agree - but behind the first three, there is the influence of particular theologies which overtly exclude women and more subtly sap women's confidence.

The final part of the article looks at what can be done, and suggests some ways forward: all the usual things, such as role models, mentors, acknowledging the problem... Yes, but we know this already, and change is happening only slowly.
I hope this article may be read by those who might be part of the solution, and that women would be increasingly accepted as leaders alongside men. Otherwise, as Jo Saxton, a Methodist minister, concludes: 'We need to ask ourselves what not raising up a generation of women is costing us, and will cost us.'

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