WATCH have now published their annual analysis of data based on the statistics collected by the Church of England Research and Statistics Department.
Our analysis shows that there continues to be a disproportionately higher number of male than female clergy in both stipendiary and senior roles. We also see that a significant majority of ordinands under 40 are male.
Female clergy are more likely to be self-supporting than stipendiary, with women twice as likely to be in self-supporting (unpaid) roles, and representing a meagre 28% of stipendiary parish clergy. The statistics show that many dioceses depend on female self-supporting clergy to keep parishes going.
In some dioceses, there’s a particularly marked contrast between the proportion of women who are self-supporting and stipendiary. This raises real questions about how women’s ministry is perceived and valued.
In Rochester diocese women represent only 23% of stipendiary clergy, whilst they represent 70% of self-supporting clergy. In Coventry and Peterborough, a similar pattern in self-supporting ministry is seen, where women represent 62% of clergy in these roles. In the archbishops’ own dioceses, the proportion of female stipendiary clergy is below average, with Canterbury at 24% York at 26%.
Whilst some dioceses do fare better, only eight have more than a third of female stipendiary clergy. Ely remains the diocese with the highest proportion of women in the roles, but this proportion has not increased since 2013, where it has remained 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.
The majority of senior leadership positions are held by men. This is most marked for diocesan bishops where 88% are male, and cathedral deans where 83% are male.
For ordinands, there are significant gender imbalances. This is despite numbers of ordinands being almost equally divided between women and men. The majority of men are selected and trained whilst under 40, whereas for women the opposite is true. In addition only 33% of all ordinands under 35 are women. We also know that nearly twice the number of men as women train residentially, whereas twice as many women as men train on a regional course.
Felicity Cooke and Esther Elliott, Interim Chairs of WATCH, said: “Each year WATCH offers a significant piece of statistical analysis to the Church of England using the official data collected about the gender of people in ministry. It provides an evidence base for how far the Church has come in terms of gender equality, and crucially, how much distance there still is to travel. WATCH will continue to challenge and work for full gender equality in the Church of England.”