February 7th, 2020

Introduction

2019 was the 25th anniversary of women being ordained to the priesthood in the Church of England. These ordinations were spread from March to July, and were celebrated in various ways throughout the year: some dioceses held services of celebration, many women celebrated in their own parishes or places of ministry, a service from the chapel of Lambeth Palace was broadcast by Radio 4 and the “class of ‘94” were invited to two garden parties at Lambeth Palace by the Archbishop.

We also noted that July 2019 was the 40th anniversary of the founding of MOW, and the 50th anniversary of women being licensed as Lay Readers (now Licensed Lay Ministers).

Seven more women were appointed as suffragan bishops out of eight appointments. None of the three diocesan appointments were women. By the end of 2019, 17 out of 63 suffragan bishops are women, whilst the number of diocesan bishops remains at five.

It continues to be vital for women to be represented in all forms of leadership in the Church of England, and this is of wider importance than just within the church. Research in the USA* discovered that experiencing the leadership of women religious leaders could close the self-esteem gap between men and women equivalent to a year of college education.

This finding would suggest that the self-esteem gap between men and women might be eliminated entirely in a world where women have female clergy at least “some of the time” in their formative years. It would boost self-esteem for women to levels equivalent with men (if not slightly higher) while not perceptively changing self-esteem for men one way or the other.
She Preached the Word p.131 Benjamin Knoll and Cammie Bolin OUP 2018

TABLE 1: Proportion of stipendiary incumbents/incumbent status clergy who are women

This table shows the proportion of stipendiary incumbent and incumbent status roles in each diocese.

In 2013 half of dioceses had 23% of parish clergy who were women; in 2018 the median figure was 27%

In 2013 only seven dioceses had 30% or more (stipendiary) parish clergy who were women

In 2018 14 dioceses had 30% or over parish clergy who were women (15 dioceses in 2017)

We note some dioceses with the lowest proportions of women continuing to increase this proportion (eg Chichester, London)

We note other dioceses with no significant change in the proportion of women eg Rochester, Chester

Ely continues to have the highest proportion of stipendiary women incumbents. It is one of the only dioceses with a conscious strategy to encourage and support women, particularly young women, in stipendiary ministry.

The proportion of incumbents/incumbent status who are women

%2013 2015 2017 2018 
40% and overEly41Ely43Ely41
Ely41
35%-39%Hereford
Ripon and Leeds
38
38
Liverpool
Truro
35
37
Liverpool
Salisbury
35
35
30%-34%St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Manchester
Peterborough
Southwell
31


30
30
30
Hereford
Truro
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Edmundsbury
and Ipswich
Peterborough
Portsmouth
Gloucester
34
33
32
32
32
32


31
31
30
Hereford
Portsmouth
St Eds and Ipswich
Durham
Gloucester
Peterborough
Lincoln
Manchester
Salisbury
Southwell
St Albans
Worcester
33
32
32
31
31
31
30
30
32
30
30
30
Hereford
Gloucester
Norwich
Peterboro’
Portsmouth
Truro
Coventry
Southwell
Durham
Manchester
Leeds
34
33
32
32
32
32
31
31
30
30
30
25%-29%Bath and Wells
Sheffield
Leicester
St Albans
Leeds
Salisbury
Chester
Derby
Gloucester
Liverpool
Portsmouth
29
29
28
28
26
26
25
25
28
25
25
Bath and Wells
Liverpool
Sheffield
St Albans
Durham
Leeds
Leicester
Lincoln
Worcester
Derby
Chester
Chelmsford
Norwich
Oxford
29
29
29
29
27
28
28
28
27
27
26
25
25
25
Bristol
Derby
Leeds
Leicester
Guildford
Sheffield
Bath and Wells
Norwich
Chelmsford
Chester
Coventry
Newcastle
Oxford
Southwark
Birmingham
28
28
28
28
26
28
27
27
26
26
26
26
26
26
25
Lincoln
Worcester
St Eds and Ipswich
Bath & Wells
Chelmsford
Newcastle
Oxford
Birmingham
Bristol
Canterbury
Derby
Guildford
Southwark
Chester
29
29
29
28
28
28
27
26
26
26
26
26
26
25
20%-24%Newcastle
Oxford
Birmingham
Chelmsford
Durham
Lincoln
Worcester
Guildford
Southwark
Truro
Exeter
Norwich
24
24
23
23
23
23
23
21
21
21
20
20
Guildford
Southwark
Newcastle
York
Birmingham
Canterbury
Coventry
Rochester
24
24
23
23
22
21
20
20
York
Sodor and Man
Canterbury
Lichfield
Winchester
24
24
22
22
20
Sheffield
York
Sodor and Man
Lichfield
Winchester
Carlisle
Rochester
24
24
23
22
21
21
20
15%-20%Carlisle
Coventry
Lichfield
Rochester
York
Sodor and Man*
Bristol
Canterbury
19
19
19
19
19
18
17
17
Bristol
Carlisle
Exeter
Lichfield
Sodor and Man*
Europe
Blackburn
Winchester
19
19
19
19
18
16
15
15
Exeter
Rochester
Carlisle
19
19
18
Exeter
London
Blackburn
Chichester
19
16
15
15
14% and underBlackburn
London
Bradford
Chichester
Wakefield
Winchester
Europe*
13
11
6
6
Chichester
London
10
12
Blackburn
London
Chichester
Channel islands
Europe
14
14
12
12
9
Europe
Channel Islands
14
14

TABLE 2:  Different roles within diocese

This table shows the proportion of stipendiary incumbent status clergy, the proportion of SSM clergy and the proportion of Area Deans who are women in each diocese.

NB Data for Stipendiary clergy and SSM clergy based on 2018 figures. Data for Area Deans updated to Dec 2019 (proportions for number of Area Deans are based on a small number of people so a change of one person can make a significant difference)

SSM data does not distinguish between SSM clergy who hold another job (often paid); and those who have significant parish responsibilities

There is no correlation between the proportions of incumbent status clergy who are women and the proportion of Area Deans. WATCH would be interested to hear of any dioceses who give conscious consideration to gender balance when making appointments to this role.

London is in the bottom grouping for both SSM clergy who are women and stipendiary incumbent status clergy who are women.

Women are more than half of all SSM clergy in 26 dioceses. This leads to a significant question about the value a diocese places on women’s ministry where women are a high proportion of SSM clergy but a low proportion of stipendiary clergy, eg:

  • Rochester: 20% stipendiary clergy are women; 78% SSM clergy are women
  • Channel Islands (not a diocese but data given separately): 14% stipendiary clergy are women and 67% SSM clergy
  • Winchester: 21% stipendiary clergy are women, 60% SSM clergy are women

The different categories of SSM are not collected centrally. Does your diocese know (and publish)  how many SSM clergy are in the different categories described above?

 Diocese% Age Stipendiary incumbent status who are women% SSM clergy who are women% Area Deans who are women
1Diocese of Bath and Wells285424
2Diocese of Birmingham265030
3Diocese of Blackburn154713
5Diocese of Bristol265743
6Diocese of Canterbury264320
7Diocese of Carlisle215720
8Diocese of Chelmsford285310
9Diocese of Chester255533
10Diocese of Chichester154029
11Diocese of Coventry315844
12Diocese of Derby264880
13Diocese of Durham305736
14Diocese of Ely414340
15Diocese of Exeter194636
16Diocese of Gloucester335033
17Diocese of Guildford265225
18Diocese of Hereford346515
19Diocese of Leicester334250
20Diocese of Lichfield225523
21Diocese of Lincoln295614
22Diocese of Liverpool355238
23Diocese of London163419
24Diocese of Manchester305430
25Diocese of Newcastle285636
26Diocese of Norwich325410
27Diocese of Oxford274624
28Diocese of Peterborough325541
29Diocese of Portsmouth326357
30Diocese of Rochester207829
31Diocese of St Albans284439
32Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich294940
33Diocese of Salisbury355828
34Diocese of Sheffield245530
35Diocese of Sodor and Man2333n/a
36Diocese of Southwark264636
37Diocese of Southwell314314
38Diocese of Truro32578
39Diocese of Winchester216027
40Diocese of Worcester295325
41Diocese of York245424
42Diocese of Leeds304750
43Diocese in Europe1426n/a
44Channel Islands1467n/a
Total2650

TABLE 3: Ordained women in senior leadership roles in diocese

By December 2019, 22 dioceses had at least one woman among their bishops. Only two dioceses had more than one woman among their bishops. Some 27% of suffragan bishops and 12.5% of diocesan bishops are women.

There are still 16 dioceses without women among their archdeacons, although at least three of these currently have a vacancy for an archdeacon. Five dioceses have no women at all among their  “ex officio” senior clergy: bishops, archdeacons and cathedral dean.

WATCH knows several dioceses find ways of ensuring that women’s voices are heard in senior staff meetings. Does your diocese have a means of ensuring that women’s voices (not a single woman’s) are heard when making decisions at a senior level?

 FemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMale
Diocese of Bath and Wells01101201
Diocese of Birmingham01101101
Diocese of Blackburn01110101
Diocese of Bristol10010201
Diocese of Canterbury0113*1201
Diocese of Carlisle01100301
Diocese of Chelmsford01033401
Diocese of Chester00010201
Diocese of Chichester01011301
Diocese of Coventry01011101
Diocese of Derby10101101
Diocese of Durham01100201
Diocese of Ely01100201
Diocese of Exeter01110401
Diocese of Gloucester10011101
Diocese of Guildford01100210
Diocese of Hereford00010101
Diocese of Leicester01101101
Diocese of Lichfield01121301
Diocese of Lincoln01021210
Diocese of Liverpool01101010
Diocese of London1015*2101
Diocese of Manchester01022101
Diocese of Newcastle10010201
Diocese of Norwich01021210
Diocese of Oxford01121201
Diocese of Peterborough01020201
Diocese of Portsmouth01000201
Diocese of Rochester01011201
Diocese of St Albans01021201
Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich01013101
Diocese of Salisbury01112201
Diocese of Sheffield01100201
Diocese of Sodor and Man01000101
Diocese of Southwark01023701
Diocese of Southwell01010210
Diocese of Truro01011101
Diocese of Winchester01110210
Diocese of Worcester01011101
Diocese of York0113*1101
Diocese of Leeds01141103
Diocese of Europe010114n/an/a
Total53517393377637

TABLE 4:  Age and gender of ordinands beginning training 2017 and 2018

The Church of England wishes to increase the proportion of women among younger individuals who train for ordination.

2018 data show an increase in this group, but still only 41% of the ordinands under 40 were women. The younger the cohort of ordinands, the smaller the proportion of women it contains. From the age of 45, the number (and proportion) of women ordinands equals and then overtakes that of men.

One implication of this continuing imbalance is that the proportion of women and men in licensed ordained ministry will be very slow to reach a gender balance, if it does so at all.

2018 is the first year when numbers of men and women training with the intention of stipendiary ministry were nearly the same, as were the numbers of those training with the intention of being an incumbent. We hope to see a similar pattern in future years.

However, no table is published which links age, gender and expected future role. This is an important link to investigate, as both the data we currently have, and anecdotal evidence, show women are being selected for training later in life than men, and more are selected for SSM and assistant roles. It seems unlikely that fewer women are of the calibre to be incumbents, and so this continuing correlation should be investigated further. See tables in Statistics for Ministry for more information.

Ordinands starting 2018Starting in 2017Starting in 2018
AgeFemaleMale% FemaleFemaleMale% Female
<2514190.4210250.29
25-2917560.2338530.42
30-3425450.3628400.41
35-3923340.428310.47
40-4441290.5935210.62
45-4942230.6462350.64
50-5450280.6451250.67
55-5933250.5738210.64
60-6416100.6221110.65
65-69520.71830.73
70+00n/a00n/a
Total2662710.493192650.55

Other authorised ministries

Church Army Officers are trained as evangelists, often working in areas of social deprivation or on the margins where church and society meet. Women have been trained as CA evangelists along with men for nearly 100 years. Today some are ordained while others remain lay. In 2018, 31% of all CA evangelists were female.

Numbers of Active CA evangelists of stipendiary age at the end of 2018
FemaleMale % Female
Lay 52950.35
Ordained22720.23

Readers/LLMs. The majority of Readers/LLMs are licensed after the age of 40. In this, they follow the pattern of ordained women. It is noticeable that between the ages of 40 and 70, the proportion of women LLMs is higher than that of men – a pattern similar to that of female SSMs.

The total number of LLMs/Readers in training at the end of 2018 (age not included in data)
AgeFemale MaleTotal % Female 
Under 404040800.5
40-59105072017700.59
60-691550129028400.55
70+1401502900.48

Note that the proportions of men and women are very similar to the proportions of women and men SSM

Female% FemaleMale% Male
44064%24036%