Gender Issues

I read with interest Kenny’s comments on the Gender Audit in our Church. (I tried to make a comment there but unfortunately wasn’t able to  so will have to do it here.)

Kenny says: “I am about to start worrying about a movement that seems to want positive discrimination for women. When appointments are made, in this Diocese at least, I know that the best person available is appointed. Because of years and years of discrimination, sometimes the posts require experience and acquired talents which mean that women are sometimes not appointed.”

I am not aware of any movement which seems to want positivie discrimation for women but that may be a Glasgow Diocese thing, so I won’t comment on that.  However, I will comment on Kenny’s next statement that some posts require experience and acquired talents which mean women are not appointed because they haven’t been ordained as long as men. What tosh! I said this at General Synod last year and will say it again… nobody seems to be taking into account transferrable skills which women have brought with them into the church. We may not have been ordained as long as some men but we may bring with us a wealth of talents in business, such as managerial skills, teaching, administration, and a whole host of other skills which can benefit senior positions in the Church. Some of these skills may be far more relevant to senior posts than being a parish priest for however many years you care to mention.  Length of service does not equate to suitability for any post, let alone senior ones.

This is also demeaning to the skills of the laity too. Many women priests will have been lay people in the Church before ordination and may have far more knowledge of the SEC than some men. They may have served on Committees, been Lay Reps, and elected Bishops which again may be more than some male priests have done.

So enough with the waiting for a few years until the imbalance is redressed. There really is no need.

Gender Audit

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.