Expanding Leadership Opportunities for Buddhist Women: Which Way Forward?


While immigrant Buddhist communities often retain their traditions of male leadership—as priests, monks, and dharma instructors—many contemporary Buddhist centers are exploring new ways to integrate women into leadership roles. At the same time, a disturbing rise in abuse and inappropriate conduct has highlighted a need for greater attention to teacher-student relations and physical and emotional well-being.

Given the long centuries of Buddhist history and the entrenched traditions that create obstacles for women who seek leadership roles, what are the risks and benefits of opening Buddhist leadership to women? What are the philosophical, theological, and ethical resources upon which such efforts at greater inclusivity can draw? How can different streams of Buddhist tradition each contribute to conversations about gender equality?

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