Today I finished an essay that I've been writing for what feels like an age. It's for my theology degree. To be able to write this essay I've had to do loads of reading. So, I have a massive pile of books on my desk. On Monday I'll put all the books back on the shelf, and start over with the next subject. But, I was looking at the mountain of books. And I noticed something.
How many women authors do you think there are in the mountain of books?
Well, technically, just one co-editor: Beth M Stovell.
(Yay - go Beth! She seems great from the little I've read.)
But, today on International Women's day, this general state of the lack of women involved in theological scholarship really saddens me. The scholarly voices today influence the church leadership of tomorrow, which influences the church, which hopefully influences the world in some way. It's really important to have the best and brightest and most creative and insightful minds writing and debating and discussing theology (as well as other fields of study too, of course).
And, if my reading list is anything to go by, we are not hearing from many of the best, brightest minds.
Also, (and I'm no expert here...) I wonder what women bring to theology that men, in general, don't. I wonder if different life experiences might mean that if we had many more women involved in theology, there would be ideas and thoughts and perspectives and approaches that are created and brought into the light. Today we miss out on those new worlds.
While I'd like to think I treat everyone fairly, I'm slowly learning about and noticing unconscious cognitive biases distorting how I view and treat people.
So, I'm trying to read, listen and engage with content from people who might have significantly different perspectives to me because of different backgrounds and life experiences. I'm trying to notice how often I'm drawn naturally to ideas, books, podcasts, movies that come from people so similar to me in many ways. I'm noticing how easy it is to create my own little echo chamber, and the algorithms of social media don't help!
If I'm completely honest, there have been times when I've felt somewhat threatened when I've witnessed the championing of women. I'm trying to recognise those feelings, but choose to join my voice in with the chorus of championing. Deep down I know that we don't run out of love and respect and cherishing. It's not a limited pot.
I feel like this conversation is a bit of a minefield at the moment, and I know some of this gets into some pretty complex issues of biology and history and all sorts of contentious things - all of which I'm not an expert on. I'm not trying to accuse anyone of anything here, nor am I trying to make a political statement. I'm just sharing my observations, my journey and hopefully encourage you with yours.
Surely, we all want to see all the women and men around us encouraged and spurred on towards the beautiful unique potential inside each one of us.
Hopefully, I'll get to read (and celebrate) more and more women writing theological works into the future. Maybe one day I'll read yours!