February 8th, 2022

Introduction

This year, WATCH’s annual analysis of data published by the Church of England Research and Statistics Department, and dioceses, also looks at the results of the delayed elections to General Synod in September 2021. Other than in the House of Bishops, there is no significant difference in the proportions of women and men who are members of Synod. Other than elected suffragans, only diocesan bishops are members of the House of Bishops, so women remain only 20% of the membership of the House.

For nearly two years, we have been living with the Covid 19 pandemic which has created many challenges for clergy, laity and their churches and communities. The financial challenges faced by parishes and dioceses have been magnified by the effects of the pandemic, which is leading to anxiety about the possible need to reduce the number of stipendiary clergy more rapidly than had been planned. WATCH is particularly concerned to ensure that any such reductions do not affect women more than men, and that women curates and ordinands are not treated differently from male colleagues.

As we go to press, we are pleased to note the appointment of Rev’d Canon Dr Flora Winfield as Third Church Estates Commissioner.

Table 1 The proportion of stipendiary parish clergy who are women in each diocese (page 3)

WATCH has published the percentage of women in each diocese holding incumbent and incumbent status posts since 2012. This is the group which forms the majority of parish clergy, although House for Duty posts are increasing at the moment. Table 1 shows what the percentage of this group was in each diocese in December 2020, and also shows this proportion in recent years.

  • In 2020, in 25 dioceses 30% or more of stipendiary parish clergy were women. In 2015, only 10 dioceses had this proportion.
  • Chichester remains the diocese with the lowest proportion of stipendiary women clergy (16%), and Ely remains the diocese with the highest proportion (43%).
  • The two dioceses where the proportion of women clergy is consistently decreasing are Sheffield, from 30% in 2014 to 22% in 2020; and Hereford from 34% in 2015 to 30% in 2020.

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

%2015 2017 2019 2020 
40% and overEly43Ely41Ely42Ely43
35%-39%Truro
Liverpool
37
37
Southwell and Notts
Salisbury
Peterborough
Truro
38

37
35
35
Peterborough
Southwell and Notts
Gloucester
Liverpool
Salisbury
Truro
39

39
37
37
36
36
30%-34%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 &Notts
St Albans
Worcester
33
32
32

31
31
31
30
30
30
30

30
30
Liverpool
Gloucester
Portsmouth
Manchester
Norwich
Worcester
Leicester
Leeds
Coventry
Hereford
Lincoln
St Albans
Bath and Wells
St Eds and Ips
34
34
34
33
33
33
32
32
31
31
31
31
30

30
Portsmouth
Worcester
Coventry
Oxford
Birmingham
Leicester
Norwich
St Albans
Lincoln
Manchester
Newcastle
Leeds
Bath & Wells
Chelmsford
Chester
Derby
Durham
Hereford
34
34
33
33
32
32
32
32
31
31
31
31
30
30
30
30
30
30
25%-29%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
28
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
Guildford
Bristol
Lichfield
St Eds and Ips
Sodor and Man
Canterbury
Rochester
Southwark
Carlisle
29
29
29
29

29

26
26
26
25
20%-24%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
Blackburn
York
Winchester
Sheffield
24
24
23
22
15%-20%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
London
Exeter
Europe
Chichester
(Channel Islands
19
17
16
16
19
14% and underLondon
Chichester
12
10
Blackburn
London
Chichester
Channel islands
Europe
14
14
12
12

9
Europe14None

Table 2: The percentage of male and female Stipendiary and SSM clergy in each diocese

This table shows the proportion of each of four groups of clergy in each diocese:

  • Women SSM clergy, women stipendiary clergy, male SSM clergy, male stipendiary clergy In every diocese, women are less than half of all licensed clergy. 45% is the highest proportion of female clergy in any diocese.
  • Generally, the dioceses with the highest and lowest total percentage of women clergy correlate with the dioceses with the highest and lowest percentages of stipendiary female parish clergy.
  • A higher proportion of all women clergy are SSM, compared to the male clergy.
  • Sheffield has nearly as many SSM women clergy as stipendiary women clergy but five times as many male stipendiary clergy as male SSM clergy. Winchester and Canterbury show a similar pattern.
  • There is no way of knowing how many SSM clergy are House for Duty or give several days a week to ministry in the parish, and how many have other jobs and are also ordained.
  • It is important to remember the different contexts of dioceses in the Church of England. A woman serving in a diocese where 44% or 45% of licensed clergy are women is likely to have a very different experience from a woman in a diocese where only 26% licensed clergy are women.
  • These figures are based on December 2020. There is concern that in the past year fewer stipendiary posts are being advertised, and there is a growing reliance on SSM clergy.

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

   Percentage of female clergy  Percentage of male clergy  
DiocesesTotal numberSSMStipendaryTotalSSMStipendaryTotal
Dioceses with 40-50% total clergy female
9Chester315142640105060
11Coventry171142943114758
14Ely211152944203656
16Gloucester180162642164258
22Liverpool242103040144660
25Newcastle154172542114758
28Peterborough17811334484856
29Portsmouth136152944124456
33St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich198192140164460
34Salisbury272172845104555
38Southwell & Nottingham1518324095160
39Truro116162844104656
Diocese 30-39% total clergy female
5Bristol193122133204868
6Canterbury1689273675764
7Carlisle135151934155166
8Chelmsford470172037174663
12Derby19392736194564
13Durham185152439115061
17Guildford262122335184866
18Hereford119142438105262
19Leicester16682836115263
20Lichfield335102636135164
21Lincoln231132336204464
24Manchester295112334214667
26Norwich23062733115768
27Oxford576142438184462
31Rochester24512243675764
32St. Albans30992837115263
35Sheffield170161834115566
*36Sodor & Man2292332234568
37Southwark449102232145367
41Winchester210181836115364
42Worcester143112738105262
46Leeds440112536164864
43York280191938154762
Diocese 20-29% clergy women
3Blackburn2187222976370
10Chichester373111526136275
15Exeter287131528145872
23London74791827155873
**44Europe14581624235477
Channel Islands3811132457176

Table 3: Women in Senior Leadership roles

The numbers of women in senior roles (bishop, archdeacon and cathedral Dean) have not changed significantly since Dec 2019. The figures used in this report are those given on diocesan websites at the start of January 2022. They include bishops appointed but not yet consecrated and/or installed.

Suffragans who are PEVs are not included in this table. Currently there is only one (Richborough) because the bishop of Ebbsfleet resigned in Sep 2021 when he converted to Roman Catholicism, and the Bishop of Beverley retired at Epiphany 2022.

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

  December 2019December 2020December 2021
Diocesan bishopsFemale555
Male363632
Suffragan bishopsFemale192021
Male484645
ArchdeaconsFemale32.53840
Male898280
Cathedral deansFemale6710
Male37.83533
  • The number of cathedral Deans who are women has increased in the last year, but this is still a low proportion of Deans, particularly considering that the first woman was appointed to this role in 2000.
  • The number of women who are suffragan bishops is increasing very slightly, but the number of women appointed as Diocesan bishops has not increased, and so the number of bishops in the Lords has not increased either. (The Bishop of Chelmsford was consecrated and installed in 2021, but the Bishop of Newcastle retired at the end of November)
  • Only two mainland dioceses (Carlisle and Rochester) have no women in senior roles, although 10 dioceses only have one woman on their ex-officio senior staff. Two of the largest dioceses, Leeds and London only have ratios of 2:14 and 3:13 of women to men among their senior staff. It is worth noting again that for a group to make good decisions that take account of groups excluded from decision making processes, a third of members need to be from this group.
  • The Deans of Jersey and Guernsey, the senior clergy on each island, are both men, but are not included in the table as their roles are not the same as cathedral Deans.
  • The table includes 3 bishops and two deans who are known to be retiring or moving early in 2022. There are currently 5 dioceses without a diocesan bishop and so this means that 7 diocesan bishops are due to be appointed in 2022.
  • The Very Rev Stephen Lake has been announced as the new Bishop of Salisbury since compiling these tables.
  Diocesan Bishop Suffragan Bishop Cathedral Dean Archdeacon 
FemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMale
1Bath & Wells00100111
2Birmingham01100111
3Blackburn01110102
5Bristol10011002
6Canterbury01100102
7Carlisle01000103
8Chelmsford10120134
9Chester01110102
10Chichester01110113
11Coventry01010111
12Derby10010111
13Durham01100112
14Ely01100102
15Exeter01110113
16Gloucester10010112
17Guildford01101002
18Hereford01001011
19Leicester01010111
20Lichfield01120122
21Lincoln00021011
22Liverpool01101013
23London10150114
24Manchester01020112
25Newcastle00010120
26Norwich01111012
27Oxford01120113
28Peterborough01010111
29Portsmouth01000112
31Rochester00010102
32St. Albans01021021
33St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich01010131
34Salisbury00110122
35Sheffield01101002
*36Sodor & Man01000100
37Southwark01030123
38Southwell & Nottingham01011011
39Truro01010112
41Winchester01111001
42Worcester01010111
43York01110121
46Leeds01140314
**44Europe010114
Total532214510334180

Table 4: Numbers, age and gender of ordinands starting training in 2021

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

 20192020 2020  2021  
AgeFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotalFemalesMalesTotal
Under 25172441151631101828
25-29184159214970222850
30-34246084245074274269
35-39332962302555252651
40-44342761463682412263
45-49582482544195372764
50-54432265552681392160
55-59421759371754361350
60-642052524529201535
65 and over6410426819
Total295253548310267577265213478

The table shows the gender and age of ordinands who started training in September 2021, and in the previous two years. The pattern of women ordinands being significantly older than men when they are selected for training is still very clear. WATCH remains concerned that this` imbalance in age of male and female ordinands is still not acknowledged by the Church of England or Ministry Division.

The total number beginning training is lower than in the two previous years. The proportion of all women starting training is slightly higher (55% in 2021 and 53% in 2020) but once again the majority of women ordinands are aged over 40. 58% women ordinands were aged between 40 and 59 while 53% of male ordinands were under 40. At the moment the Church of England is demonstrably failing in its aim of encouraging young women to train for ordained ministry.

Training Pathways

This age and gender imbalance is reflected in the training paths followed by men and women.

 %age all women%age all men
Full time residential17%36%
Full time non residential27%24%
Part time56%40%

As noted in last year’s report, the Church of England gives a block grant to dioceses based on the number and ages of ordinands it sponsors. The grant is heavily weighted towards young ordinands aged 32 or younger, and from the age of 40 the grant will only cover the costs of part time training. As we can see from the table above, fewer than half of women ordinands train full time and fewer than 20% train residentially.

This also means that in many residential training institutions the majority of ordinands will be male, and so these ordinands are being formed in a context which continues to normalise clergy being male.

Normalising male leadership in the Church of England is also reflected in those who lead TEIs. Out of ten TEIs offering residential training, only one Principal is a woman (Westcott). None of the Principals of institutions offering Mixed Mode or part-time training are women. Women are part of the academic staff, but in most colleges they are a minority. Encouraging women to imagine themselves in leadership roles needs to be taken more seriously by those responsible for training ordinands, and considered seriously when making appointments.

We note the plan to set up Ladyewell House in Preston, which will be linked to Emmanuel North West, and designed to train ordinands called to pioneer ministry from a Catholic perspective. Ladyewell House will be open to only men. We ask where women with a vocation to sacramental, catholic pioneer ministry will be supported in their training and formation if the existing colleges are not considered to be offering this formation satisfactorily.

(see report 17 December 2021 Church Times)

Table 5: Age and gender of Sep 2021 cohort of ordinands following different training pathway

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

 Full-time residential Full-time non-residentail Part-time  
AgeFemaleMaleFemaleMaleFemaleMaleTotal
20-24714340028
25-291220783050
30-34102211166469
35-396111277851
40-444716721863
45-4932165182064
50-543033331860
55-590131331149
60-640010191535
65-690000819
Total4577725114885478

Lay Ministry

We know that much of the local ministry in parishes happens because of lay people, some of whom are nationally licensed (eg Readers/LLMs; Church Army evangelists), some of whom are authorised by their diocese and some of whom even more locally. There is little good quality data on the numbers of those involved in local churches in this way, although the Church of England’s Research and Statistics Department is looking for ways of doing this (see p 26-9 of the Ministry Statistics 2020 Report) It is worth noting:

“It was also found that nearly two thirds of individuals in lay roles were women, but that licensed posts were less likely to be held by women than authorised/commissioned or locally recognised ones.” (p30)

The patterns for women in Reader/LLM ministry are very similar to women in SSM roles.

In Dec 2020:

  • 54% Readers in active ministry were women
  • 66% total Readers in training were women
  • 1% Women Readers are under 40 (and 2% male Readers)

The newly elected General Synod: how many women were elected?

The new General Synod for the quinquennium 20121-26 was elected in September 2021 and inaugurated in November. This group of people will be responsible for legislation passed by the Church of England during this time, and, as far as they can, holding to account those who speak and act in the name of the Church of England. It is known that the more diversity there is among the members of a decision making group, the greater the likelihood of good decision making, so WATCH has looked at the gender balance among the members in Synod.

This table gives the numbers of men and women members

(Scroll left and right for large tables on small screens)

 WomenMen% womenNotes
House of Layity1059253%
Laity ex-officio39
House of Clergy6513133%
Clergy ex-officio1‚0
House of Bishops (diocesans)6*3220%20% of the whole Hose of Bishops are women
Elected Suffragans36
House of Bishops ex-officio11The Bishop of Dover and the Bishop for the Forces are ex-officio members of the House of Bishops

*The number of women in the House of Bishops fell to 5 one week after the end of Synod, when the Bishop of Newcastle (the Rt Rev Christine Hardman) retired.

  • Although more women have been appointed as suffragan bishops since 2015, the numbers of women in the House of Bishops remain low, because only 6 diocesan bishops (now 5) are women. This is significant because of the role of the House of Bishops in guiding policy nationally.
  • The proportion of women in the other houses of clergy and laity has barely changed since 2015, when women made up 32% of the House of Clergy and 50.5% of the House of Laity.
  • In four mainland dioceses (Blackburn, Ely, Portsmouth and Winchester) no ordained women have been elected. No ordained women stood for election in Blackburn and Portsmouth, and none stood in 2015 either. It is surprising that Ely has no women among its clergy representatives, because it is one of the dioceses with the highest proportion of clergy who are female. (see tables 1 and 2).
  • No ordained women represent either Sodor and Man or the Channel Islands , though these are particular constituencies and do include women among their lay representatives.

The diversity of the various Synod Committees and other roles is also significant. In recent elections the Dr Jamie Harrison was elected Chair of the House of Laity and Alison Coulter as Vice chair, The Ven Luke Miller and the Rev Kate Wharton were elected as the Prolocutors of Canterbury and York. This balance is good to see, although the ordained women in the province of Canterbury may wonder how the 5 Guiding Principles enables a priest who does not think that they should exist to represent them fully.

Acknowledgements and Sources

Acknowledgements and Sources Data in tables 1 and 2 based on the Report “Ministry Statistics 2019” and Diocesan Tables published June 2020 and produced by Church of England Research and Statistics, Great Smith Street, London SW1P 3AZ, available online www.churchofengland.org/researchandstats

Table 3 is based on information published on diocesan and cathedral websites Jan 202

Table 4 based on data provided in response to Question 4, asked in General Synod Nov 20 and question 107 asked in General Synod Nov 2021

Information on TEI staff taken from websites Jan 2022