This week at our General Synod we will be discussing, amongst many, many other things, the Gender Audit. In the past year this has been drawn together showing how many posts in our church are filled by women and men. I think it makes for shocking reading. I’m not sure that I am allowed to publish any of the statistics here yet but suffice to say that women don’t feature heavily in the senior positions of our church: posts like Bishops, Deans, Provosts, Canons and Convenors of Boards and Committees. Of course some may say that it is still ‘early days’ and women just haven’t been ordained long enough to rise through the ranks to those posts. ‘Pooh!’ say I.
If we were to look at the job descriptions of those posts (of course there is no such thing as a job description, but let’s imagine that there is) then I suspect that many of the strengths needed can also be found in the secular workplace. But our Church doesn’t really work that way. To me, it seems much more about ‘time served’ rather than skills needed.
I was listening to an interview with the Primus just before Synod and he was asked about the Gender Audit. He said that the ones which struck home most forcefully with him were not the lack of women in senior posts such as Bishops and Deans etc but at the parish level where, on Vestries, men tend to be Treasurers and women are usually the Vestry Secretaries. The Primus says that this ‘struck him most forcefully’. I suppose in terms of grassroots policy if we don’t get the gender balance at that level then there is no hope at a higher level. I’m not convinced. I still think it is more about the ‘old boys network’.
And let it be known that at St Mark’s we have a female Treasurer and a male Vestry Secretary.