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Nearly 60 Percent of Female PC(USA) Clergy Report Facing Gender-Based Discrimination in the Church

  • Kayla Koslosky

    Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket …

  • 2021 Oct 28

The latest release of the Presbyterian Church USA Research Services’ Minister Survey found that nearly 60 percent of female clergy in the Presbyterian Church have experienced gender-based discrimination.

The survey considers the responses of 4,495 clergy members or 23 percent of all ordained mainline Protestant ministers. It was conducted between September and November of 2019.

According to the “Discrimination, Opportunity, and Struggles of Leadership Report,” 58 percent of women reported being discriminated against within the Presbyterian denomination because of their gender. Just 4 percent of male respondents, however, reported the same.

Higher numbers of women also reported experiencing overall discrimination – including race or age-based prejudice – with 63 percent of females reporting experiencing discrimination and 21 percent of males reporting the same.

When the respondents were asked if they had experienced racial or ethnic discrimination, Asian, Black, Hispanic and multiracial women or additional women of color reported experiencing higher percentages of discrimination than their male counterparts. Asian women reported the highest levels of discrimination (70 percent), followed by Black (56.7 percent), Hispanic (50 percent) and “other or multiracial” women (21.2 percent). White women reported the lowest levels of racial or ethnic discrimination across the board, with just 1.1 percent claiming to have experienced race-based discrimination. Among White men, 2.5 percent reported the same.

When asked if they found it difficult to be accepted as a leader because of their race or ethnicity, clergy of color reported experiencing more difficulty, with 50.8 percent of Black, 33 percent of Asian, 28.1 percent of Hispanic and 19 percent of other or multiracial clergy saying they faced difficulties. Just 2.5 percent of White clergy reported the same.

When broken down by age and gender, more women under 40 reported experiencing difficulty (71.1 percent) than any other group. When considering just women, 58 percent reported having a hard time being accepted as a leader.

According to The Christian Post, women respondents were also more likely than their male counterparts to report facing “Offensive comments,” “Not having work validated by others,” and “Low pay.”

This recent report is the sixth release in an eight-part series by PC(USA) about ministers’ experiences in the church.


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/PaulMaguire

Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to and