Women are Majority in General Agency Workforce

7/14/2017

From the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women
 

by Rev. Leigh Goodrich



 

 

In spring, 2017, a General Desk Audit was requested by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women.  The results showed some promising advances for women as compared with a similar audit performed in 2007.  Before we review the trends, there are some notable caveats in our comparison to the 2007 numbers.  This year’s audit does not include responses from Wespath.  Also, the Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships no longer exists.  However, United Methodist Women and the Connectional Table were new participants in 2017.  These changes predictably skew some of the comparisons, however we still find that general agencies lead the denomination in the promotion of women in their workforce.  Let’s look at the results. 

Women, who make up 58% of total United Methodist membership, also fill almost half (46%) of general secretary positions.  If we were to include Wespath, this statistic would be 50%.  Also, more than half of the key leadership positions in the general agencies are women.  This includes direct reports to general secretaries (59%) and managers (63%).  Moreover, a whopping 88% of the lawyers and accountants employed by our general agencies are women.  (See Table I). 

TABLE I

2017 General Agency Desk Audit Employment Summary

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

6

7

13

46%

54%

Report to G.S.

46

32

78

59%

41%

Attorney/Accountant

43

6

49

88%

12%

Manager

231

137

368

63%

37%

Technician/Controller

51

95

146

35%

65%

Administrative/Clerical

212

38

250

85%

15%

Service/Maintenance

60

45

105

57%

43%

Total

649

360

1009

64%

36%

 

This compares favorably to our 2007 audit.  At that time, only 4 of 13 general agencies had a female general secretary, and just over half of agency executives (52%) and managers (59%) were women.  Professional women filled 69% of the legal and accountant positions. 

In 2007, some agencies had no women in their most senior positions.  Today, only Archives and History, with a total staff of 6 people, did not report a woman in a senior position.  Not surprisingly, 100% (a total of 14 positions) of the most senior positions at UMW, GCSRW, and the Connectional Table are occupied by women.  In 2007 women held a minority of the executive positions in 6 of the 13 reporting agencies.  In 2017, women hold a minority position in 5 of the 13 reporting agencies. 

In a pattern similar to that seen in secular society, we continue to find a predominance of women filling administrative and clerical positions.  In 2007, women filled 77% of the administrative positions in the general agencies, and today that number has risen to 85%.  Similar to the cultural context of the United States, and perhaps because of the vocational training women receive, they continue to disproportionately fill administrative and support positions. 

Women and the boards

Just as we reported in 2007, women continue to occupy a majority of the positions in the four major boards of The United Methodist Church, which include the General Board of Higher Education (76%), the General Board of Church and Society (74%), the General Board of Global Ministries (72%) and the General Board of Discipleship (61%).  Interestingly, the two general boards with female general secretaries also employ the most women.  However, those positions are largely administrative and clerical.  More specifically, one third of Church and Society’s most senior positions, and 100% of their administrative/clerical positions are occupied by women.  Similarly, 20% of the most senior positions at Higher Education and Ministry are filled with women, while women hold 93% of administrative and clerical positions.

If we compare these agencies to the General Board of Global Ministries, we see a smaller percentage of women employed overall, however, women make up 63% of senior positions and 86% of administrative and clerical jobs. 

Women and the commissions

General boards tend to be larger bodies than the general commissions.  A board is designed to carry out an assigned function for an indefinite period of time.  As a result they tend to be larger than a commission, which is tasked with a specific function for an indefinite period of time (See ¶703.2 & 3, The 2016 Book of Discipline).  With this in mind, let’s look at the commissions.

The smaller commissions include the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, whose workforce is 100% female, as it was in 2007, and United Methodist Men, whose workforce is 25% female, as it was in 2007.  This is an appropriate trend for commissions employing 6 and 8 people, and mandated to empower women and resource men, respectively. 

Similarly sized commissions include Archives and History that employs women in technical and administrative positions, while the Commission on Race and Religion fills 75% of its staff in senior positions with women, and the Connectional Table that employs women in all three of their senior positions with women.

For the purposes of our analysis, we consider the Commission on Finance and Administration, United Methodist Communications, United Methodist Publishing House, and United Methodist Women as a separate group because of their uncharacteristically large sizes.  United Methodist Women, like the General Commission on Women, appropriately employs women in all of its senior positions.  Both Finance and Administration, United Methodist Publishing House, and United Methodist Communications staff over half of their senior positions with women, 57%, 50%, and 67% respectively. 

Where do we go from here?

Despite changes in those reporting between 2007 and 2017, the general agencies of The United Methodist Church have made clear and significant strides over the past decade toward bringing women into full and equal responsibility and participation in their leadership.  Most stunning is the shift of women general secretaries who make up 50% of general agency leadership, up from 31% in 2007.  Almost 7% more women are now direct reports to general secretaries, and women managers have creeped up from 59% to 63%.  Women also make up the greatest number of professionals, filling 88% of the positions in 2017, compared to 69% in 2007.  This attests to the importance of professional training for women’s advancement.

While we might expect some of the data to skew toward women’s greater involvement with the addition of information from United Methodist Women, clearly their participation is not the sole factor in some of the advances we continue to see in general agency leadership.  It is also significant that women make up the greatest number (85%) of administrative workers in the agencies, a traditionally female role.  Perhaps in 2027 we will see movement toward equal numbers of men and women in those roles as well.

While The United Methodist Church, whose membership is 58% women, has made efforts to empower women throughout the structures of the denomination, it is clear that the general agencies lead the way in hiring and promoting women.  In 2017, women make up 64% of the general agency workforce, with more women than ever in the most senior positions.  This compares with 27% of clergy, 28% of bishops, 34% of district superintendents, and 36% of General Conference delegates who are female throughout the denomination.  Overall, we conclude that our general church agencies continue to be leaders in promoting women’s leadership in The United Methodist Church.   

 

TABLE II

2017 General Board of Church and Society

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

1

0

1

100%

0%

Report to G.S.

2

4

6

33%

66%

Attorney/Accountant

2

0

2

100%

0%

Manager

9

2

11

82%

18%

Technician/Controller

1

1

2

50%

50%

Administrative/Clerical

5

0

5

100%

0%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

20

7

27

74%

26%

 

2017 General Board of Discipleship

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

0

1

1

0%

100%

Report to G.S.

2

4

6

33%

66%

Attorney/Accountant

3

0

3

100%

0%

Manager

54

44

98

55%

45%

Technician/Controller

3

7

10

30%

70%

Administrative/Clerical

35

4

39

90%

10%

Service/Maintenance

0

2

2

0%

100%

Total

97

62

159

61%

39%

 

2017 General Board of Higher Education

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

1

0

1

100%

0%

Report to G.S.

1

4

5

20%

80%

Attorney/Accountant

2

0

2

100%

0%

Manager

15

9

24

63%

37%

Technician/Controller

2

0

2

100%

0%

Administrative/Clerical

26

2

28

93%

7%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

47

15

62

76%

24%

 

2017 General Board of Global Ministries

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

0

1

1

0%

100%

Report to G.S.

5

3

8

63%

37%

Attorney/Accountant

3

1

4

75%

25%

Manager

38

30

68

56%

44%

Technician/Controller

0

1

1

0%

100%

Administrative/Clerical

83

14

97

86%

14%

Service/Maintenance

5

3

8

63%

37%

Total

134

53

187

72%

28%

 

2017 General Commission on Finance and Administration

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

0

1

1

0%

100%

Report to G.S.

4

3

7

57%

43%

Attorney/Accountant

6

2

8

75%

25%

Manager

11

8

19

58%

42%

Technician/Controller

8

10

18

44%

66%

Administrative/Clerical

17

4

21

81%

19%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

46

28

74

62%

38%

 

2017 General Commission on Archives and History

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

0

1

1

0%

100%

Report to G.S.

0

2

2

0%

100%

Attorney/Accountant

0

0

0

0%

0%

Manager

0

0

0

0%

0%

Technician/Controller

1

1

2

50%

50%

Administrative/Clerical

1

0

1

100%

0%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

2

4

6

33%

67%

 

2017 General Commission on Race and Religion

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

1

0

1

100%

0%

Report to G.S.

2

1

3

66%

33%

Attorney/Accountant

0

0

0

0%

0%

Manager

2

0

2

100%

0%

Technician/Controller

0

0

0

0%

0%

Administrative/Clerical

1

1

2

50%

50%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

6

2

8

75%

25%

 

2017 General Commission on the Status and Role of Women

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

1

0

1

100%

0%

Report to G.S.

3

0

3

100%

0%

Attorney/Accountant

0

0

0

0%

0%

Manager

1

0

1

100%

0%

Technician/Controller

0

0

0

0%

0%

Administrative/Clerical

1

0

1

100%

0%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

6

0

6

100%

0%

 

2017 United Methodist Women

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

1

0

1

100%

0%

Report to G.S.

9

0

9

100%

0%

Attorney/Accountant

6

2

8

75%

25%

Manager

20

3

23

87%

13%

Technician/Controller

0

3

3

0%

100%

Administrative/Clerical

12

2

14

86%

14%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

48

10

58

83%

17%

 

2017 United Methodist Men

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

0

1

1

0%

100%

Report to G.S.

1

2

3

33%

66%

Attorney/Accountant

0

0

0

0%

0%

Manager

0

0

0

0%

0%

Technician/Controller

0

0

0

0%

0%

Administrative/Clerical

1

3

4

25%

75%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

2

6

8

25%

75%

 

2017 United Methodist Communications

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

0

1

1

0%

100%

Report to G.S.

8

4

12

67%

33%

Attorney/Accountant

2

0

2

100%

0%

Manager

28

11

39

72%

28%

Technician/Controller

19

32

51

37%

63%

Administrative/Clerical

12

2

14

86%

14%

Service/Maintenance

0

1

1

0%

100%

Total

69

51

120

58%

42%

 

2017 Connectional Table

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

1

0

1

100%

0%

Report to G.S.

2

0

2

100%

0%

Attorney/Accountant

0

0

0

0%

0%

Manager

0

0

0

0%

0%

Technician/Controller

0

0

0

0%

0%

Administrative/Clerical

0

1

1

0%

100%

Service/Maintenance

0

0

0

0%

0%

Total

3

1

4

75%

25%

 

2017 United Methodist Publishing House

 

Women

Men

Total

Women %

Men %

General Secretary

0

1

1

0%

100%

Report to G.S.

7

7

14

50%

50%

Attorney/Accountant

19

2

21

90%

10%

Manager

53

30

83

64%

36%

Technician/Controller

17

40

57

30%

70%

Administrative/Clerical

18

5

23

78%

22%

Service/Maintenance

55

40

95

58%

42%

Total

169

125

294

57%

43%