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Социология религии. Социолого-религиоведческий портал

Occupational Gender Inequality among American Clergy, 1976–2016: Revisiting the Stained-Glass Ceiling

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Sociology of Religion, Volume 78, Issue 4, 8 January 2018, Pages 387–410,https://doi.org/10.1093/socrel/srx032
17 July 2017


The number of female clergy in the United States has steadily increased over the last 40years. Several occupational theories suggest that the ratio of males to females within an occupation can affect occupational income inequality. Previous research on clergy has found meaningful gender differences in pay. However, this research has focused on particular denominations and has not captured trends in the national clergy labor market. Using the Current Population Survey, we uncover patterns in occupational gender inequality among clergy at the national level. We find that among clergy, the female income disadvantage has changed from 60 cents on the dollar in 1976 to 93 cents on the dollar in 2016. However, 42 percent of the income gains for female clergy is explained by the slow rates of income growth among male clergy. We conclude by discussing unique features of occupational gender inequality within American congregations.

In this study, we address the questions “What are the gender differences in pay among American clergy, and how have these differences changed over time?” As in many occupations, the proportion of female clergy has risen since the 1970s. Indeed, the 1960s census occupational code included the category “clergymen.” The gendering of this occupational category reflects the expectations of the time. However, in the 1970s the census switched the category to the more gender neutral “clergy,” partly in response to the increasing number of women who were employed as congregational leaders. We explore the trends in occupational inequality among American clergy using national data from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS). Figure 1 shows the percent of female clergy per year from 1976 to 2016. Using a five-year average, we find that about 6 percent of clergy in the United States were female from 1976 to 1980. By 2012–2016, this proportion had increased to approximately 20 percent. This growth in the number of female clergy provides a context for understanding some of the unique aspects of occupational gender inequality within American congregations.



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