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Women in Leadership: A Perspective

Stefanie Ertel, M.A.

Dean of Distance Education

Program Director, Christian Leadership

Many people, organizations, churches, and others are focusing on the fact that every life can make a difference. Heidi Wills said, “we can choose to be affected by the world or we can choose to affect the world.” Every person has aspects of their life that will help them and hinder them going after a life of change and impact. One regular barrier to approximately half of the population is their gender.

The presence of women engaged in leadership roles is increasing across the United States (and the world); however, it is still evident that there is a drastic difference between men and women in this arena. Even with the drastic growth in the past decade, there is still a disparity in the number of women in leadership roles in the United States.

Female Leadership in the United States today

20.7% of U.S. Clergy

14% of college presidents and 25% of provost and college deans

6.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs

No matter your faith, there is a barrier; yet, because of some people’s faith this can also affect one’s stance on this topic. For Christians, several mainstream opinions are prevalent on what they believe about women in leadership. The most popular include:

─ women cannot have any form of leadership or authority over men.

─ women should not have authority over their husband or have governmental authority in the church (for example a senior pastor or elder), but can lead, teach, oversee, etc. over other men.

─ women are completely equal on the leadership scale as men (senior pastors, elders, etc.).

The scope of this blog cannot include details from all of these popular beliefs, nor even focus on one. No matter what you decide to believe, a few points should be reflected upon before determining where you stand.

─ Let scripture interpret scripture (if one area of the Bible seems to contradict another, look into it. Many factors of the culture and environment of the time it was written ought to be taken into account.)

─ Go into your research open-minded asking for the Holy Spirit to guide you.

─ Lastly, I want to encourage women to not have a victim mentality. God has created all of us on purpose, for a purpose. We all have the ability, through the Holy Spirit, to greatly affect this world.

Mary Wollstonecraft wrote, “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves.” It is not about what men can do and what women can’t do. It’s not about decreasing men to increase women. We ought to look to our own race, our own calling, and sprint after it fully. The greatest leaders use every aspect of their calling to make a difference!

Jeremiah 29:11 (ESV) For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.