A comparative study of feminine dimensions of religious leadership development

Kathryn Grace Hollywood, Fordham University


This study was undertaken in response to issues raised by the increasing number of women entering the traditionally male-dominated field of religious pastoral leadership. The study explored the developmental Dream and career-related efficacy expectations of 40 female religious pastoral workers of the Protestant, Jewish, and Roman Catholic religions from across the United States. As the Protestant and Jewish denominations accept women into their religious pastoral leadership positions while the Roman Catholic church does not, the study specifically asked: Do Protestant, Jewish, and Roman Catholic women aspiring to religious pastoral leadership positions differ with regard to the formation and content of their developmental Dream, their degree of perceived career-related self-efficacy, their selection of role models, and their selection of mentors to facilitate their movement into the male profession of religious pastoral leadership? Career issues such as socialization patterns, education, professional training, perceived supports, and obstacles to career advancement were investigated through in-depth interviews by the researcher along with their responses to the Religious Pastoral Leadership Self-Efficacy Instrument developed by the researcher. The overall findings of this exploratory study revealed differences among the four groups of women based more on age than on religious affiliation. Religious affiliation did play a role in the realm of perceived career-related self-efficacy. There was unanimous agreement that the absence of role models and mentors had an impact on the women's professional development and movement into the religious pastoral leadership role. Based on the findings of this study, younger women seeking positions in the male-dominated field of religious leadership found their path easier than the other women. However, the religious institutions still need to address equity issues that hinder women's pursuit of religious pastoral leadership.

Subject Area

Clergy|Womens studies|Religious education

Recommended Citation

Hollywood, Kathryn Grace, "A comparative study of feminine dimensions of religious leadership development" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9123120.