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Women in Leadership

The number of women faculty and senior administrators in theological education is growing, although their percentage remains smaller than the percentage of women students. In this targeted area of ATS work, the Association provides educational support for women faculty and administrators and assists schools in their efforts to include more women in leadership positions. A recent survey study of participants—generously funded by a grant of $150,000 from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation—in past Women in Leadership (WIL) programs regarding their experiences and a survey study of women currently in faculty and/or administrative roles regarding perceptions and opinions about their work in theological education, yielded findings that will guide future programming for women in leadership.

The 20-year history of ATS work with women in leadership—celebrated in February 2018—includes a broad spectrum of support and advocacy for female faculty, students, and administrators. The comprehensive four-year WIL program, funded by the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation in 1997, enabled fall and spring gatherings of women at varied stages of their vocations. In addition to Engage ATS (an online community for those who work at ATS member schools to network and share resources), the WIL program hosts two conferences: an Advancing Women in Leadership Conference in odd numbered years and an Emerging Women in Leadership Conference in even numbered years.

Advancing Women in Leadership Conference: This conference is designed for women currently serving as presidents or deans in member schools. These are the most influential roles in ATS schools, and they bring both the greatest opportunity to guide the course of an institution and the greatest amount of stress. The conferences precede the Presidential Leadership Intensive Conference and the Academic Officers' Conference, and they are designed to provide time for networking, reflecting, and strategic thinking.

Emerging Women in Leadership Conference: This conference focuses on emerging and advancing professional development, including attention to the distinctive skills needed by women to function effectively in theological schools. It provides a focused educational setting as well as the opportunity to network with other women. Participants are selected on the basis of letters of recommendations applications from ATS schools, and preference is given to women who have not attended this conference in the past.



Mary Young
Director of Leadership Education