February 25th, 2021

Introduction

WATCH has been publishing an annual analysis of data based on statistics collected by the Church of England Research and Statistics Department. This year the report also includes a table comparing the proportions of women in roles defined as incumbents and those in roles defined as “incumbent status”, and one comparing the proportions of women in each diocese licensed to stipendiary roles with those licensed as SSM.

Over these years the proportion of women holding stipendiary parish posts has been increasing in most dioceses. However, there are still only eight dioceses where more than a third of such stipendiary posts are held by women.

  • A significantly higher proportion of men are licensed to incumbent roles and a higher proportion of women are licensed to incumbent status roles.
  • Women clergy are more likely to be in SSM roles than stipendiary and in some dioceses the difference is significant. For example, in Rochester 70% SSM clergy are women but only 23% of stipendiary clergy. This raises a question about the culture of these dioceses, and whether women will be able to flourish in ministry there.
  • The majority of men are selected and trained while aged under 40, while for women the opposite is true.
  • WATCH is aware that we have not considered the proportions of women clergy who are BAME. This is because we cannot find this information, despite asking. This is of concern, particularly because all professionals who work to promote an egalitarian culture will stress the importance of an awareness of intersectionality. However, we are glad to congratulate the Rt Rev Guli Francis-Deqani on her appointment as Bishop of Chelmsford.

We also recognise that the role of lay women is not shown this year. The patterns shown in previous reports for the gender of LLMs continue to be very similar. It continues to be hard to find meaningful data on the many ways in which lay women contribute to the ministry of the church. This is a reflection on both the way women are regarded in the Church of England and also laity in general.

General synod elections have been delayed a year. In 2015 32% of elected members of the House of Clergy were women and 50.5% elected members of the House of Laity*. We would like to encourage women to stand in General Synod elections this autumn in both the House of Laity and the House of Clergy. In 2015 there were some dioceses where no women stood for election. WATCH thanks those members of General Synod who have served an extra year, particularly those who have worked through Synod for greater inclusivity in the Church of England.

*(Thinking Anglicans blog, Friday, 30 October 2015)

Table 1: Proportion of stipendiary parish clergy who are women in each diocese

Since 2012, WATCH has published the percentage of women in each diocese holding incumbent and incumbent status stipendiary posts. This group forms the majority of (paid) parish clergy. This year we compare the proportions of women in such posts over two year intervals from 2013 to 2019.

  • In 2019, in half of all dioceses 29% or more of stipendiary clergy were women, compared to 2013, when the median figure for the proportion of women in such posts was 23%.
  • In 2013, fifteen dioceses had under 20% women in stipendiary incumbent/incumbent status posts and in seven dioceses the proportion was 13% or lower. By 2019 five dioceses had under 20% women in such posts.
  • In 2019 the dioceses with the lowest proportion of women of stipendiary incumbent status were Exeter and Chichester with 16%, and Europe with 14%. The Channel Islands also have only 15% of such posts held by women.
  • Ely remains the diocese with the highest proportion of women in such roles, but the proportion of women has not increased since 2013, remaining between 41% and 43%. We would not like to think that this is a natural ceiling for the proportion of women in stipendiary parish ministry.
  • We note that from 2013 onwards, some dioceses have consistently increased the proportion of women by a significant amount. eg Liverpool, from 25% to 34%; Worcester from 23% 33%, Bristol from 17% to 28%.
  • In other dioceses the proportion of women has decreased: eg Hereford from 38% to 31%; Sheffield from 29% to 26%.
  • The dioceses of both archbishops continue to be in the lower half of this table. In Canterbury only 24% of stipendiary parish clergy are women and in York only 26%.

We do not have any information to indicate whether dioceses have strategies to increase the proportion of women among their clergy or even if they monitor gender diversity. All dioceses will be aware that diversity is important in being able to respond to a changing world and use the gifts of all the people God has called. Dioceses need to monitor diversity, including the proportions of women in all roles, in order to create strategies to increase diversity.

%2013 2015 2017 2019 
40% and overEly41Ely43Ely41
Ely42
35%-39%Hereford
Ripon and Leeds
38

38
Liverpool
Truro
35
37
Southwell and Nott
Salisbury
Peterborough
Truro
38

37
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
Liverpool
Gloucester
Portsmouth
Manchester
Norwich
Worcester
Leicester
Leeds
Coventry
Hereford
Lincoln
St Albans
Bath and Wells
St Eds and Ipswich
34
34
34
33
33
33
32
32
31
31
31
31
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
Guildford
Newcastle
Sodor and Man
Birmingham
Bristol
Chelmsford
Chester
Oxford
Derby
Durham
Sheffield
York
Lichfield
Southwark
29
29
29

28
28
28
28
28
26
26
26
26
25
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
Canterbury
Winchester
Rochester
Blackburn
24
24
23
21
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
Carlisle
London
Chichester
Exeter
(Channel Islands)
19
19
16
16
15
14% and underBlackburn
London
Bradford
Chichester
Wakefield
Winchester
Europe*
13
12
11
11
6
6
0
Chichester
London
10
12
Blackburn
London
Chichester
Channel Islands
Europe
14
14
12
12

9
Europe14

Table 2: Comparison of incumbent and incumbent status roles of female stipendiary clergy

Parish clergy can be licensed as “Incumbents” or to a post which is classified as “incumbent status”. In general, most people in a parish do not know, and certainly don’t worry about, the legal status of “their vicar”. This is why in our annual analysis of proportions of stipendiary clergy who are women (table 1) WATCH combines these two groups because the sort of role they have is so similar. However, clergy with jobs which in the church might be regarded as “more senior” or carrying more responsibility such as Team Rector, or the vicar or rector of a large church, are normally licensed as incumbents, and roles such as Team Vicar or priest-in-charge are normally classified as “incumbent status”.

A complication in making comparisons between dioceses is that different dioceses have different proportions of clergy licensed as incumbents. In Blackburn 92% of clergy are classified as incumbents, while in Worcester the proportion is 53%. However, a comparison of the proportion of female clergy classified as either incumbent or incumbent status in each diocese showed at once that women are under-represented in the group of incumbents and over represented in the group of incumbent status clergy. It is clear that a smaller proportion of women clergy are licensed to posts traditionally regarded as carrying more responsibility. There are only three dioceses where more than a third of clergy licensed as incumbents are women, and no diocese has more than 38% women in such roles. In 21 dioceses, the proportion of incumbents who are women is 25% or lower.

However, if we compare clergy classified as “ incumbent status”, the proportion of women with such roles is 33% or higher in 29 dioceses. In seven dioceses, over 50% of “incumbent status” clergy are women.
It is also worth noting the dioceses where there is a significant difference between the proportions of women who hold these two sorts of licence. For example, in Newcastle 54% of incumbent status stipendiary clergy are women, but women are only 19% of incumbents. In Blackburn, 50% incumbent status clergy are women but only 19% of incumbents are women. In Canterbury and Winchester, 36% and 37% (respectively) of incumbent status clergy are women but only 17% of incumbents are women. Gloucester and Exeter dioceses are the only ones where proportions of women licensed as incumbents and to incumbent status roles is equivalent.

There may be several reasons for these discrepancies, such as clergy who are incumbents often remaining in the same post for longer than those who are incumbent status, so changes take longer to have an effect. However, the data suggests that although the proportion of women in stipendiary ministry is rising slowly, the proportion of women appointed to roles such as Team Rector continues to lag behind. This is something dioceses should be auditing and taking account of in any pastoral reorganisation.

%DiocesesProportion of incumbents who are woman by %DiocesesProportion of woman holding incumbent status by %
50% and above0Newcastle
Salisbury
Ely
Lincoln
Manchester
Sodor and Man
Blackburn
54
52
51
51
50
50
50
40- 49%0Guildford
Worcester
Hereford
York
Peterborough
Truro
Portsmouth
St Eds and Ips
Southwell and Notts
Birmingham
Chester
Coventry
Liverpool
Norwich
Leeds
49
48
47
46
45
45
44
44
44

43
42
43
43
41
41
30-39%Ely
Southwell and Notts
Gloucester
Peterborough
Leicester
St Albans
Salisbury
Bath and Wells
38
36

34
33
32
32
30
30
Oxford
Durham
Rochester
Winchester
Canterbury
Derby
Gloucester
Bristol
Lichfield
Sheffield
Leicester
Chelmsford
Southwark
39
37
37
37
36
35
35
33
33
33
32
31
30
20-29%Coventry
Liverpool
Norwich
Portsmouth
Leeds
Guildford
Truro
Chester
Hereford
Lincoln
Manchester
Oxford
Birmingham
Chelmsford
St Eds and Ips
Southwark
Bristol
Lichfield
Sheffield
York
Derby
Worcester
Rochester
Sodor and Man
29
29
29
29
28
27
27
26
26
26
26
26
25
25
25
24
23
23
23
22
21
21
20
20
Bath and Wells
St Albans
Chichester
Carlisle
28
26
24
22
10-19%Blackburn
London
Newcastle
Durham
Canterbury
Winchester
Carlisle
Exeter
Chichester
19
19
19
18
17
17
16
16
14
Exeter
London
Europe
17
17
14

Table 3: Comparison of proportions of SSM clergy and Stipendiary Clergy

A significant number of parishes are only able to keep offering ministry to their communities because of the time and commitment of clergy who are not paid (Self Supporting Ministers). There continues to be a significant gender imbalance between SSM and stipendiary clergy.
The Church of England Ministry Report (June 2020) published several tables with information on numbers of SSM clergy (Appendix 1, tables 4 -7). From the tables it can be seen that

“Although only 32% of all active ordained ministers were female, they made up half of all non stipendiary and self supporting ministers.”

From the published tables we can see that:

  • 35% ordained women with roles in licensed ministry, including chaplaincies) are SSM while
  • 18% ordained men with similar roles are SSM
  • 48% female SSM clergy are in rural ministry, compared to 41% male SSM clergy.

Table 3 compares the proportion of women who are Self Supporting Ministers, with the proportion who are in stipendiary parish ministry, in each diocese.

  • On average, 28% stipendiary clergy are women, while 50% SSM clergy are women.
  • In many diocese, the proportion of SSM female clergy is nearly twice the proportion of female stipendiary clergy.
  • In four dioceses, the proportion of women SSM clergy is about 3 times the proportion of women stipendiary clergy: Carlisle, Chichester, Exeter and Rochester, (the Channel islands also have a noticeably higher proportion of SSM women clergy)
  • The proportions of stipendiary and SSM clergy who are women are roughly similar in only three dioceses: Ely, Leicester and Southwell and Nottingham.

In dioceses where there is a significant imbalance in these proportions, questions need to be asked about why this might exist. Is it unconscious bias against stipendiary women clergy, a lack of role models among stipendiary clergy who are women or something else? What assumptions are being made?

SSM clergy are essential to the ministry of the Church of England, but the church needs to value this ministry fully, and ensure that women in such roles who are under pension age are not being exploited by lack of pension and NI contributions.

 Diocese%age SSM clergy who are female%age stipendiary parish clergy who are female
1Diocese of Bath and Wells5430
2Diocese of Birmingham5228
3Diocese of Blackburn4921
5Diocese of Bristol6128
6Diocese of Canterbury5824
7Diocese of Carlisle5619
8Diocese of Chelmsford5328
9Diocese of Chester5828
10Diocese of Chichester4416
11Diocese of Coventry6231
12Diocese of Derby4626
13Diocese of Durham5926
14Diocese of Ely4042
15Diocese of Exeter5116
16Diocese of Gloucester4734
17Diocese of Guildford5129
18Diocese of Hereford6131
19Diocese of Leicester3932
20Diocese of Lichfield5525
21Diocese of Lincoln5431
22Diocese of Liverpool5334
23Diocese of London3419
24Diocese of Manchester5633
25Diocese of Newcastle6129
26Diocese of Norwich5133
27Diocese of Oxford4428
28Diocese of Peterborough6235
29Diocese of Portsmouth5934
30Diocese of Rochester7023
31Diocese of St Albans4731
32Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich5430
33Diocese of Salisbury6137
34Diocese of Sheffield5826
35Diocese of Sodor and Man4029
36Diocese of Southwark4425
37Diocese of Southwell3938
38Diocese of Truro5835
39Diocese of Winchester5824
40Diocese of Worcester5233
41Diocese of York5826
42Diocese of Leeds4832
43Diocese in Europe2314
44Channel Islands7115
Total5028

Table 4: Women in leadership roles

The numbers of women in senior roles in diocese have not changed significantly since Dec 2019, when the figures were collected by the Research and Statistics department. WATCH has compared these figures with the data for December 2020, and the results are below. There is no significant difference in the numbers of women in these roles over the past year. (Vacancies are not included).

  • In 2019, three new diocesan bishops were appointed (although two were not installed until 2020). All three were male.
  • In 2020 two new diocesan bishops were announced (not yet installed), one male and one female.
  • In 2019 eight new suffragan bishops were appointed, including the Bishop of Dover who is an ex-officio member of the House of Bishops. Seven were women and one was a man.
  • In 2020 eight new suffragan bishops were appointed. One was a woman and the other seven were men.
  • At the end of Dec 2020, 12% diocesan bishops are women; 30% suffragan bishops are women; 32% of archdeacons are women and 16% cathedral Deans are women.
  • Currently three diocese have no women among their (ex-officio) senior staff (senior staff defined as bishops, Dean and Archdeacons): Peterborough, Chester and Hereford. Hereford has recently appointed a woman to the role of Archdeacon of Ludlow. Sixteen dioceses have only one woman among senior staff.

A recent report exploring why women are under-represented in senior positions, analyses key reasons and suggest strategies and actions which could enable the Church of England to become more intentional about promoting diversity.
“Using the lens of women’s ordained ministry, how can we grow diversity within the strategic leadership of the Church so that all may flourish?”

Click here to see the above report.

This gendered pattern has not altered but it is still not recognised in press releases and official statements made by the Church of England reports. Until this pattern is acknowledged it will not be possible to plan strategically, and use money strategically, to start to remove this imbalance

  December 2019December 2020Notes
Diocesan bishopsfemale55Dec 2020 announcement that Bishop of Loughborough appointed to Chelmsford.
male3636
Suffragan bishopsfemale19204 vacancies. 2 men appointed.
male4846
Archdeaconsfemale32.538N/A
male8982
Cathedral deansfemale67N/A
male37.835

Table 5: Ages and Gender of ordinands starting training in 2019 and 2020

The number of female ordinands has increased slightly in recent years. However, what has not changed is the pattern of age and gender distribution of ordinands. The number of female ordinands under 40 decreased by two from 2019 to 2020, and the proportion of all female ordinands under 40 continues to be at 40% or under. If we look at the proportion of ordinands under 35, the “young” ordinands that the Church of England wants to encourage, the percentage of women is even lower: only 33% of all ordinands under 35 are women.
The link between gender and age is shown starkly in the table below which shows the division of the 2019 and 2020 cohorts of ordinands by age and gender:

This gendered pattern has not altered but it is still not recognised in press releases and official statements made by the Church of England reports. Until this pattern is acknowledged it will not be possible to plan strategically, and use money strategically, to start to remove this imbalance.

 Starting in 2019Starting in 2020
AgeFemaleMaleTotal FemaleMaleTotal
<25172441151631
25-29184159214970
30-34246084245074
35-39332962302555
40-44342761463682
45-49582482544195
50-54432265552681
55-59421759371754
60-642052524529
65 and over6410426
Total295253548310267577

Table 6: Modes of ordinand training (data from answer to Qu 4 November General Synod 2020)

Table 6 illustrates one result of this age imbalance. The Church of England gives a block grant to dioceses based on the number of ordinands it sponsors. This grant is weighted towards younger ordinands. Ordinands aged 32 or younger are given the highest grant, and from the age of 40, the block grant does not cover the cost of residential training. As can be seen from Table 6, nearly twice as many men as women train in a residential setting and nearly twice as many women as men train on a part- time course. Different people will benefit from different modes of training, but the current data strongly implies that the choices of all ordinands are closely linked to gender.

There are several other results of the age/gender imbalance of ordinands:

A higher proportion of women are ordained into SSM roles, as older ordinands will not normally be selected for stipendiary ministry.

The proportions of women and men in ordained ministry will remain weighted in favour of men. This will be even more noticeable among stipendiary clergy, the majority of whom will continue to be male.

Young ordinands training in residential institutions are likely to be in a group with a majority of men, and so they will continue to be formed in a culture that normalises clergy being male.

2019ResidentialMixed ModePart Time
FemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotal
Under 25141832358011
25-2910293971017123
30-34123648112031145
35-3991221218293912
40-445611121022171128
45-49941318624311445
50-5421312214291948
55-59303325361551
60-6400040416521
65+011011628
Total64107171916415514082222
Total Cohort: 548
2020ResidentialMixed ModePart Time
FemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotal
Under 25121527314000
25-2912304271724224
30-3411344591524415
35-39111324111122819
40-4411617201232151833
45-496511191130292554
50-5421312820411758
55-59202202331750
60-6410100023528
65+000000426
Total68104172837515815988247
Total Cohort: 577

Acknowledgements and Sources

Data in tables 1 – 3 based on the Report “Ministry Statistics 2019” published June 2020 and produced by Church of England Research and Statistics, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ It is available online using this link.

Table 4 is based on information published on diocesan and cathedral websites Dec 2020

Tables 5 and 6 based on data provided in response to Question 4, asked in General Synod Nov 2020