A few weeks ago, we watched the graphic of the glass ceiling break as Hillary Clinton became the first female presidential nominee by a major political party. While presidential candidates in the past have had it mentioned that they were good parents, there was much lauding of Hillary’s motherhood, and behind-the-scenes talk about her sticking by her husband during their difficult times.
This past week, we have heard stories of Kerri Walsh Jennings being a terrific mother and how she has to balance motherhood and being an athlete. Headlines that congratulated the wife of a Chicago Bears lineman who won bronze in women’s trap shooting: her name is Corey Cogdell (the Chicago Tribune received a lot of feedback on that one). That glass ceiling is not broken, only cracked. Because women are barely getting through.
Less than one quarter of the churches in my region have a woman on the pastoral staff, and of that quarter, one third are part-time. And while more women are still entering seminary than men, more women are in search processes and more women are not considered by search committees. There are still churches, in 2016, in my denomination that refuse to look at the professional profile of a woman minister in their search processes.
So I would like to ask my male colleagues to consider the following:
--Would you enter a profession in which you were significantly less likely to be hired because of your gender?
--Would you accept a position at a church if the person before you was a woman and received more pay than you, even though you have the same level of experience (or even more?)
--Would you be comfortable in a denomination in which there were churches that would not consider you because you are male?
--Would you accept a position in which a major change in family status would require you to be gone for 6-12 weeks, but the church would not pay for your leave time?
Now, ask yourself these real questions that I have personally been asked by search committees in the past, and how would you feel about them being asked of you:
--“How will you balance your family time and church time?”
--“What will you do on Sunday if your child is sick?”
--“What will your spouse do if you are the pastor? Will they be involved in the church?”
--“How is your physical health?”
--“How will you be able to pastor the (opposite sex) in our church?”
--“Will you leave the church if you have a baby?”
No my friends, the glass ceiling has not been broken. It has been cracked, but we have a long way to go in breaking it.
*Note: this post reflects a binary way of thinking, and is definitely not encompassing of all ministers or all families, especially LGBTQ individuals and their families. I cannot imagine the list of questions my LGBTQ clergy friends have been asked that would never be asked of those of us who are cisgender and heterosexual.