Recent research has indicated differences between the way female clergy function. What are some of the differences?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Recent studies [see links below] indicate that the role of female clergy is rather marginalized. They are given minor roles and constitute a distinct minority in seminaries and in churches. Nevertheless, there are some gains as in seminaries there are more female teachers and religious history courses now include material concerning all segments of church life. Once ordained, most women are serving in small, rural churches.

In her book, Bless Her Heart: Life as a Young Clergy Woman Ashley Anne Masters writes of her experiences on the pulpit. She notes how difficult it has been for her to work such long hours that are expected of her as the only clergy in the church. Further, she finds that people complain about her if she is not available at so many different hours. But, after hiring someone to do her housekeeping and making some other arrangements, she is working more efficiently.

There is often opposition to female clergy because people resist tradition and/or they feel that women with children are likely to have emotional problems because of so many demands placed upon them. The most cordial arrangements seem to be when there are both a male and a female clergy, but the male is given the more important role. In some cases, distinctions of tasks were made, such as dealing with contractors was the place of male clergy; advising members of the church on personal problems leaned slightly toward male clergy, The study's conclusions were that women clergy as a majority function in judicatory staff positions because they are often blocked from moving up the pastoral ladder to the larger churches.