A Christian Conference Last Week Had Over 100 Presenters, So Why Were Only 4 of Them Women?

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses the recent controversy involving a Christian conference and how more than 95% of the speakers were male:

(For more on the story, read this.)

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Andy Anderson

    Not seeing the problem here. It’s right there in 1 Timothy 2 about how the womens need to shut up and let the men teach.

    Maybe this’ll help more people to realize that the Bible frequently gives shitty advice.

  • Lurker111

    Hmmm. Is this a point we want to make? At skeptic conferences, what’s the percentage of women speakers?

    • http://parkandbark.wordpress.com/ Houndentenor

      Plus the sexual harassment problem. I think we’re in a glass houses situation on this. We should take care of our own house first.

      • Jim

        Is there a sexual harassment problem?


        Anyone going to address the question or are we just downvoting today?

        • Soren

          No, a “feminist” just overreacted at one when a man invited her to his hotel room for coffee. She then talked about how he made an “unwanted pass” at her, and how he “violated her with his words.”

          Because clearly, all this meant was that he wanted to rape her. You know, even though they were in an elevator at the time. And they were the only ones there. And instead of jumping on her, and holding her down, he extended an invitation that she was entirely free to decline.

          • 3lemenope

            Could there be a thread on gender issues that doesn’t devolve into re-litigating this one event that none of us were present for?


            It tends to scavenge ALL the oxygen.

          • Jim Jones

            And that feminist’s name was Andrea Dworkin. and she punched that man in the head and he was fired from the university. All for a piece of chalk.

    • Jim

      Skepticon 6 has 8 female speakers out of 18. That’s about 44%.

      • Lurker111

        That’s a pretty good percentage. Thanks for the info.

    • baal

      Hemant addressed your point.

  • Gunner Miller

    Most church’s believe in equality…everyone with a penis is equal. See. they ARE enlightened.

  • Whitney

    Quite a few churches are very, very conservative in this matter. There’s quite a bit of support for women not speaking at all in church in the Bible (Example: 1Cor 14:33-35 “..As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church” NIV) Ergo, you say that there were only three or four women speaking at this conference, and I’m surprised there were that many.

    When I was just a little girl in a Southern Baptist church, I realized that the Christianity is a faith by, for, and about men. Women are there because they’re wives, daughters, mothers, or grandmothers; their welcome is questionable at best. It was unusual for a woman to teach other women in Sunday School, never mind speak during the service. Singing/music was about as close to “leadership” a girl could hope for.

    I’ve had the dubious fortune of listening to several pastors give long-winded sermons on this very subject. The ones I’ve heard were very close to the “fire and brimstone” type sermon that you might hear in a revival tent. I remember how it felt to be effectively disenfranchised by these people who I was repeatedly told loved me very much. I won’t go into detail here, but I will say it was very painful.

    I think what we may be seeing here is desperation. This is a change in the classic stance of many religious institutions, and I think it’s in part because the churches are losing the support of the younger generations. Without support, religion becomes the fairytale it should have always been.

    • Alierias

      We can only hope the younger generatIon rejects the message of inequality. Plenty of that going around in my generation :(

  • Gideon

    Why not quotas? Given that we’re going to measure diversity using statistics after the fact anyway, why not have clear minimums? If a certain threshold is the expectation, why not state the number? Even if it’s only an extremely low standard barely above “token” representation, it’s more likely to be met when everyone at least knows what it is ahead of time. For instance, if the hypothetical Christian leader just says directly, “I won’t be a speaker unless at least 15% of the other speakers are women.”

  • BrettCoffin

    Were there is one thing that Churches and University Physical Science departments have in common. Churches are subject to the same social stupidity that all of the United States (and many other Countries) are subject too.

  • LesterBallard

    Rhetorical, right?

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    But a conference isn’t just about what you perceive. It’s not just about what’s out there… It’s about what you want. It’s about what you want to see in the future.

    Yes, and I think that the organizers of Christian leadership conferences are getting exactly what they want. Males have dominated leadership roles in Christianity in the past, they do so in the present, and they want that to continue in the future. Any inclusion or recognition of women in leadership roles is a begrudging concession to the decades-long societal pressure for greater gender equality which they would very much like to reverse if they could. The overall posture of Christianity is that of digging in their heels, trying to pull their members and the rest of society back into the past.

    But it’s a self-defeating strategy. By fostering attitudes of sexual exclusion from birth on, they deprive themselves of half of the intelligent and talented people they could draw upon for leadership, for innovation, and for inspiration. By fostering generally anti-intellectual attitudes in both males and females, they drive the most intelligent individuals out of their ranks, further impoverishing their group of the best and the brightest.

    For those individual women and men so affected it’s a frustrating and painful process, and I feel for them. But I would like to see religion continue to lose its grip on the psyche of civilization, and I’d like to see that attrition process accelerate, so from a broader point of view it’s fine with me that Christian leaders continue to do this.

  • Julio

    Wow only 4 out of a 100 were women? That’s almost as bad gender gap as a panel at an atheist convention.

    • baal

      Cite please. While you’ll find gender gaps all over the place, atheist conventions aren’t down in the 4% range last time I looked.

    • Anathema

      I’m with Baal on this. Can you name an atheist convention where only 4% of the speakers were female? I know that the atheist movement has problems with being truly inclusive towards women, but I don’t think that atheist conferences are nearly as bad at excluding women speakers as you think they are. Feminist atheists have made serious efforts to broaden the movement to make sure that women aren’t excluded. Thanks to their efforts, atheist women are more visible than we have been in the past.

      Don’t get me wrong, there’s still a lot of room for improvement with regards to gender issues within the atheist movement, so we shouldn’t get too cocky when we criticize sexism within religious groups. But, unless you can actually name an atheist conference where only 4% of the speakers were women, you are a part of the problem. You are erasing the contributions that women have made to the atheist movement. Atheist feminists have done a lot of work to make sure that the contributions of atheist women are recognized. In pretending that so few atheist women are invited to speak at conferences, you are undermining their efforts.

  • http://www.girlscantwhat.com/ Gretchen @ Girls Can’t WHAT?

    Well imagine my surprise as I am scanning my feeds and see the cover art for your video is my drawing! Although I have an updated version of this on my Girls Can’t WHAT? site, this particular design continues to be one of my biggest sellers.

    Hemant, your video regarding this topic was excellent. It’s nice to have a male weigh in on this issue instead of us women constantly pointing out the discrepancies. Thanks for posting this.