Women in Religious Leadership


The first female bishop of the Church of England may be ordained by the end of the year. The Mormon community is widely discussing the role of women in LDS leadership, missions, and perhaps the priesthood. Some religious traditions embrace the contributions of women in positions of authority within narrowly defined parameters. Others recognize a full equality in every arena of leadership. Everywhere the conversation about the role of women in leading religious communities involves the interpretation of sacred texts, the role of traditions, and the divine call of women.

Despite decades of positive change toward gender equality in American society, women remain under-represented in leadership positions in most major faith groups. What theological and social factors lie behind this resistance to change? How can more women gain access to leadership positions? What impact have women had in faith traditions with greater levels of equality? What might change if women had greater responsibility in religious organizations?

The Patheos Public Square is produced in partnership with Christianity Today and the Progressive Christian Initiative.

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