Last year in San Diego at the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS), I agreed to be interviewed about my experience as a female who belongs to a society that has only 6% women in its membership. That number even includes student members. And who knows what percentage of the female members actually attend the annual meeting. All I can say is that when I go, I felt quite conscious of my femaleness, let me tell you. (Kudos to our friends at IFL who invest in their female employees by sending them.)
I asked that my remarks be connected with a pseudonym—and as a journalist I almost never make someone keep my comments off the record. Does that tell you anything?
A year later, the results are in, and the report evoked a lot of conversation in Atlanta. The opinions have been quite mixed, with some insisting that anecdotal evidence/stories don’t count in research. (For people who say such silly things about narrative being an illegitimate source of info, I recommend epistemological therapy with Dr. Esther Meek.)
I attended ETS the week before Thanksgiving—presented two papers, moderated a marriage panel, and also went to the American Academy of Religion national meeting, because my nominee for the Arts and Religion Award—Marilynne Robinson—was selected and honored. In between all that, I had many conversations over meals and coffees and in the hallways about the research and the responses to it. Some women I know have attended once and never want to return. (The same is true of one of my dearest male Latino friends. The absence of a minority presence is deeply troubling.)
Here’s a link to the final report, “A Question Mark Over My Head?” which resulted from more than thirty-five interviews with a broad spectrum of people. It’s not short, but it’s thorough.
I’m glad to report that some of my male colleagues have been appropriately distressed by the findings and have been vocal in their responses. I’d love to know what you think.