|Number of Female Senior Pastors in Protestant Churches Doubles in Past Decade|
After decades of no growth in the ranks of female senior pastors serving in Protestant churches, a new Barna study that has tracked the ratio of male-to-female pastors indicates that women have made substantial gains in the past ten years.
From the early 1990s through 1999 just 5% of the Senior Pastors of Protestant churches were female. Since that time the proportion has slowly but steadily risen, doubling to 10% in 2009.
Not surprisingly, a large share of the woman in the pastorate – 58% – are affiliated with a “mainline” church – i.e., a congregation that is aligned with denominations such as American Baptist Churches (ABCUSA), United Church of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), United Methodist or Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), abbreviated PC(USA). Among male pastors, less than half that percentage (23%) is affiliated with a mainline ministry.
Other Pastoral Characteristics
Women in the pulpit are generally more highly educated than are their male counterparts. Currently, more than three-quarters of female pastors (77%) have a seminary degree. Among male pastors less than two-thirds (63%) can make that same claim.
Despite their higher educational attainment, though, female pastors typically have smaller compensation levels than do male pastors. The average package for female pastors in 2009 is $45,300. The median compensation for male pastors is $48,600. As striking as the gap may be, it has diminished somewhat over the last ten years. The Barna study noted that while male pastors have experienced a substantial increase in compensation packages since 1999 – up 21% - female pastors received an even greater jump, growing by 30%. In other words, the difference in compensation has been cut by more than half, from $6,900 per year to about $3,300 annually.
One of the reasons for the discrepancy in pay rates between male and female pastors is the size of the congregations they lead. Male pastors lead congregations that average 103 adults in attendance on a typical weekend compared to 81 adults at churches led by female pastors.
Protestant Church Attendance Decreases
About the Research
The Barna Group, Ltd. (which includes its research division, The Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research on a wide range of issues and products, produces resources pertaining to cultural change, leadership and spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984. If you would like to receive free e-mail notification of the release of each new, bi-monthly update on the latest research findings from The Barna Group, you may subscribe to this free service at the Barna website (www.barna.org). Additional research-based resources, both free and at discounted prices, are also available through that website.
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