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Posts tagged ‘female power’

Taking the Scandal of the Evangelical Mind One Step Further

by Mary Beth Fraser Connolly

In a recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Cristina Richie examines the lack of female leadership in evangelical seminaries.  According to Richie, while women have made strides in academia in general, entering positions of authority (such full professor, deans, and other administrative roles), they fall behind in “Seminaries and other institutions that operate under a religious exemption from nondiscrimination laws have a long tradition of male-only education that often perpetuates itself through misogynistic practices.”

Richie describes the not-all-too-shocking gender landscape in the evangelical academy where female faculty are significantly less represented when compared to their male counterparts.  Furthermore, Richie argues the system itself appears to be set up to preference male faculty (again, not shocking news).  The result of this imbalance is that female intellectuals are not contributing to the larger  development of the future of theological education.  Richie’s essay is clear, concise, and points to both evangelical, mainline Protestant, and Catholic institutions’ historical lack of gender equality in leadership. Women’s minority presence in this area of the academy is a multi-layered problem that needs to be addressed. Richie argues for female academics and their male supporters to push for a larger presence at the same time she challenges traditionally-minded (and arguably misogynistic) male leadership to get out of the way of change.  Richie warns her readers that “[u]nderutilizing the expertise of trained evangelical women scholars leads to lopsided intellectual work and the dwarfing of the theological mind.”

In many ways, Richie’s caution to seminaries and other religious institutions needs to go broader.   Yes, women have moved into positions of authority throughout the academy and they are more broadly represented among faculty in colleges and universities.  But can we do more to foster an equitable work space for all faculty and staff regardless of gender or position in the academy?

When the Female Body Troubles the Male Intellectual Mind: A Cross Post from Christianity Today

Starting in May, we (the LFP office) start traveling to various conferences for our Lilly Graduate Fellows.  Throughout the year they are hard at work in the graduate programs and engaging in online colloquiums.  Then in the summers, they come together for conferences that are held over three or four days at one of the mentor’s home campus.  We just got back from one held at Baylor University.  Baylor has several graduate students in our Lilly Graduate Fellow program and we had a chance to catch up with some of them, which is where I learned about this article written by the Third Cohort’s Rachel Pietka.  Written in April, Pietka is responding to John Piper’s take on female intellectuals – more specifically Bible commentaries written by women.

Apparently Piper has trouble with women directly in person conveying knowledge to him, because, as Pietka puts it, “a woman teacher stands before him, he says, making him aware of his own manhood and her womanhood.”  This troubling for Piper, as Pietka points out, pulling human sexuality into the intellectual mix.  Equally troublesome is that Piper is threatened by female power.  Women’s ideas, according to Piper, can only be expressed indirectly.

There is more in Pietka’s post. Check out what she has to say in her excellent post on Christianity Today.

Rachel Pietka received her Bachelor’s Degree in English from Azusa Pacific University in 2006.  She completed her M.A. at Chapman University in 2009, and she is currently in the PhD program in English at Baylor University.  She studies women writers and religious issues, specifically nineteenth-century American literature, transatlantic perspectives, and life writing.

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