Number of Women Leaders in Church Grows

Tallies Comparable to Those of U.S. Work Force

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WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 29, 2004 ( The percentage of women in diocesan leadership positions compares favorably with the U.S. work force, says a Church study.

The study, called for by the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Women in Society and in the Church, was conducted by the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, women in 2002 made up 51% of the executive, administrative, managerial and professional work force. In that same year, women held 48.9% of diocesan administrative positions.

The study was the second follow-up to a 1998 Women’s Committee document that encouraged the appointment of women to Church leadership positions. Both the 1998 survey and the new 2003 survey are available at

Some key findings from the new report note that:

— Over the 1999-2003 period, the percentage of women in diocesan leadership rose slightly, to just under 48.4%. This compares with 46.6% during 1995-1998.

— During the 1999-2003 period, women held on average 26.8% of the top (Level One) positions. These include the chiefs of pastoral services, finance, personnel, education, and community services. This compares with 25.5% during 1995-1998.

— Large dioceses (more than 350,000 Catholics) are less likely to employ women administrative staff. They averaged 45% between 1999-2003. Medium-sized dioceses averaged just under 50% while small dioceses (fewer than 150,000 Catholics) averaged 52%.

— The South and West are the strongest employers of women administrators, averaging 53%, up slightly from the earlier period. The Central and Midwest showed substantial increases over the previous period, averaging 47% and 46%, respectively. The Northeast had the smallest percentage, 42%, but this was a significant increase over the 38.2% of 1995-98.

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