By Craig This
Women comprise 58% of United Methodist
membership and 57% of the total number
of employees of U.S. annual conferences,
according to the 2006 employment profile
conducted by the General Commission on
Religion and Race and the General Commission
on the Status and Role of Women.
However, while women—lay
and clergy—have the majority
of all conference jobs, men
outnumber women at the
executive level. And across
the gender divide, clergy are
more likely than laity to
hold high-paying conference
jobs, whether or not the jobs
require theological education.
Men—both lay and clergy—
hold 69% of the uppermanagement
jobs in United
Methodist annual conferences.
Clergymen have the highest
percentage of executive
positions (58%), followed by
clergywomen at 22%, laymen
at 11% and laywomen at 9%.
Laywomen as a whole make
up the largest demographic
group among those employed
at the annual conference
level (883 laywomen compared
to 338 laymen). However,
522 (59%) of those
positions held by women
The largest portion of laymen
(31%) is service workers.
Clergymen comprise the second
largest total of employed persons
at the annual conferences with 465 employees, compared with 196 clergywomen.
And 71% of clergymen (331) and 65%
of clergywomen (127) are in executive positions.
A previous “By the Numbers” suggested that
the general church pigeonholes women in terms
of the jobs they hold and the places where they work. Similarly, in U.S. annual conferences,
laywomen are more likely to be hired as administrative/clerical
persons than as executives. And
while clergywomen are more likely than their lay
sisters to have management jobs, they are not as
numerous in those jobs as their clergy brothers.
It can be correctly argued that the overall lack of
women in the church leadership limits the ability
to place women in executive levels of leadership
across the church. Currently, there is about
one clergywoman for every five clergymen. If the
church is placing these clergywomen in churches,
annual conferences, general agencies and schools of theology, there are only so many of them to go
around. The lack of a greater pool of clergywomen
affects the church’s ability to place them in a denomination
with 33,000 churches, 66 annual conferences,
526 districts and 13 schools of theology.
At the same time, the inability of the church to
place women in highly visible leadership positions,
whether at the annual conference level or in the
local church, hurts recruitment. Women, young
and old, who are being called into the ministry
by God need role models they can emulate and
imitate in fulfilling their calling from God. If
they do not see women fulfilling their potential
in The United Methodist
Church, then these women may
seek to fulfill God’s calling in
another denomination or seek
careers in the secular arena.
The July/Aug/Sept 2007 issue
of The Flyer contained errors in
Table 1 of “Women by the Numbers.”
The GCFA Total Racial
Ethnic Women Voting members
should be 5 (not 6), Total Voting
Members should be 40 (not 53)
and Racial Ethnic Women as %
of Total Voting Members should
be 13% (not 11). The GBCS Total
Racial Ethnic Women should
be 12 (not 9), Total Voting
Members should be 62 (not
59), and Racial Ethnic Women
as % of Total Voting Members
should be 20% (not 15).
is a faculty member
of the Department of Sociology,
Geography and Social Work at
Sinclair Community College.