For starters, in terms of sheer numbers of attributes, we found no gender difference in the number of positive attributes assigned, but women were assigned significantly more negative attributes.

Our research on leadership attributes found significant differences in the assignment of 28 leadership attributes when applied to men and women. While men were more often assigned attributes such as analytical, competent, athletic and dependable, women were more often assigned compassionate, enthusiastic, energetic and organized. Consistent with our results, societal attitudes suggest that women leaders are described as more compassionate (the most assigned attribute overall) and organized than men leaders. In contrast, women were more often evaluated as inept, frivolous, gossip, excitable, scattered, temperamental, panicky, and indecisive, while men were more often evaluated as arrogant and irresponsible.

A huge body of work has found that when women are collaborative and communal, they are not perceived as competent—but when they emphasize their competence, they’re seen as cold and unlikable, in a classic “double bind.”

—David Smith et al., “The Different Words We Use to Describe Male and Female Leaders”[1]

Leadership as Service

How many of you love listening to people who are retired discuss their life achievements? If you have a family member who lived through the Great Depression, or World War II, or some other devastating event, you often hear them celebrate the sacrifices and achievements of others whom they worked

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Christian Women and Leadership

I believe that God calls both women and men into roles of leadership with all the opportunities and challenges these roles entail. Scripture and church history make abundantly clear that women can and do exercise significant influence and power in a variety of contexts, including the church. Yet, most of

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Faith Communities Today 2010 found 12 percent of congregations in the US had a female as senior or sole ordained leader. The numbers are even lower for evangelical congregations, with only 9 percent having a female senior or sole leader. While 71 percent of Protestants are supportive of female pastors, only 39 percent of evangelicals were supportive. Research reported in the book, Women Who Preached the Word, indicates those numbers are even lower. Despite this, only 12 percent of women felt they’d been treated differently because of their gender and only 3 percent believe they’d been held back because of their gender. These numbers are similar to the expressed sentiment of men (14 percent and 5 percent), except men felt more strongly that they’d been treated differently and held back. Interestingly, according to Pew research, 55 percent of evangelicals are women.

—“2010 National Survey of Congregation”[2]

Further Reading

Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know
9 Anti-Abuse Practices Your Church Needs To Adopt
Clergy Responses to Domestic Violence

The only thing wrong with Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know is the title. This book contains information essential to every person, not just pastors. Motivated by what he terms “the magnitude of pastoral neglect” of domestic violence,

September 11, 2017

Abuse is an abstract concept for many people, and it’s a word heavy with cultural misconceptions. When talking about abuse, I’ve learned to bridge the communication gap by defining and describing it: abuse is a pattern of coercive control based in an abuser's feeling of

August 8, 2017

Of all the social problems confronted by the church, domestic violence is surely one of the most misunderstood and mismanaged by church leaders. I still look back with deep embarrassment on the time when, as a young pastor, I was

September 16, 2014

Faith Communities Today 2010 found 12% of congregations in the US had a female as senior or sole ordained leader.
For evangelical congregations, it’s 9%.

Domestic Violence: What Every Pastor Needs to Know, Second Edition
Al Miles
According to the American Medical Association, one quarter of American women will be abused by an intimate partner at some point in their lives. Often, however, pastoral caregivers possess the same misconceptions about domestic violence as does the uninformed public.


[1] David Smith, et al., “The Different Words We Use to Describe Male and Female Leaders,” Harvard Business Review, May 25, 2018, https://hbr.org/2018/05/the-different-words-we-use-to-describe-male-and-female-leaders, accessed May 4, 2023.

[2] “2010 National Survey of Congregations,” Faith Communities Today, https://faithcommunitiestoday.org/wp-content/ uploads/2019/01/2010FrequenciesV1.pdf.

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