More women leaders in US church than in general workforce

 The percentage of women in diocesan leadership positions compares favourably with the US workforce, according to a church study released by the US Bishops' Committee on Women in Society and in the Church last Friday. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, in 2002 women made up 51 percent of the executive, administrative, managerial and professional workforce. In that same year, women held 48.9 percent of diocesan administrative positions. The study: "Women in Diocesan Leadership Positions: Progress Report, 2003," was conducted by The National Association of Church Personnel Administrators. It is the second follow-up to a 1998 Women's Committee document From Words to Deeds, which encouraged the appointment of women to church leadership positions. "The results of this survey are indeed encouraging," said Bishop Edward P Cullen, of Allentown (PA), chairman of the Women's Committee. "Now that women hold nearly 50 percent of diocesan leadership positions, there is an even greater need for the document that the Women's Committee is developing to promote collaboration between women and clergy." Other key findings from the 2003 report note that: * Over the five-year period between 1999 and 2003, the percentage of women in diocesan leadership rose slightly, to just under 48.4 percent. This compares to 46.6 percent during the 1995-1998 period. * During the 1999-2003 period, women held on average 26.8 percent of the top (Level One) positions. These include the chiefs of pastoral services, finance, personnel, education, and community services. This compares to 25.5 percent during the 1995-1998 period. * Large dioceses (over 350,000 Catholics) are less likely to employ women administrative staff. They averaged 45 percent between 1999-2003. Medium-sized dioceses averaged just under 50 percent while small dioceses (fewer than 150,000 Catholics) averaged 52 percent. * The South and West are the strongest employers of women administrators, averaging 53 percent, up slightly from the earlier period. The Central and Midwest showed substantial increases over the previous period, averaging 47 percent and 46 percent respectively. The Northeast had the smallest percentage -- 42 percent -- but this was a significant increase over the 38.2 percent of the 1995-98 period. The NACPA survey included over 50 executive, management, administrative, and professional positions in arch/dioceses around the country. Examples of women in top-level church positions can be found throughout the country. The position of chancellor, for example, in the Diocese of Dallas is held by Mary Edlund, and in the Archdiocese of Washington by Jane Belford. The Director of Personnel Services in the Archdiocese of Chicago is Carol Fowler. In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, Maureen Huntington is Superintendent of Schools; in the Diocese of Mobile (AL), Gwen Byrd. Source: USBC

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