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The barrier and the stained-glass ceiling. Analyzing female careers in religious organizations - B. de Gasquet

Béatrice de Gasquet,
Centre d’études interdisciplinaires des faits religieux,
10, rue Monsieur-le-Prince, 75006 Paris, France

Available online 27 July 2010 on ScienceDirect

This article surveys existing research (principally in France and the United States) concerning women’s access to a religious career based on ordination (as in Christianity and Judaism). In the first part of the article, we look at how the “barrier” that ordination may represent for the feminization of religious management is dealt with. Research on what is at stake when ordaining women into the various religious organizations allows us to point to factors that separate cases where women access religious authority officially, from cases where they only possess it unofficially, and those where they are excluded. The second part looks at “levels”, i.e. the persisting imbalance between feminine and masculine careers in the religious organizations where the prohibition no longer obtains. The comparison with other professional milieus is stressed, since behind the apparently specific nature of a religious universe, mechanisms are often similar, as the expression in our title – “the stained-glass ceiling” – implies.

Keywords : Profession ; Organization ; Career ; Religion ; Gender ; Feminization ; Authority ; France ; United States

Article Outline

  • 1. Getting beyond the barrier. Women’s access to religious authority
    • 1.1. Women’s ordination, a major divide in the religious world today
      • 1.1.1. Women’s access to the rabbinate and the pastorate in the United States
      • 1.1.2. When female ordination is prohibited : the barrier, and ways to circumvent it
    • 1.2. When the barrier crumbles : why a religious institution opens its doors to women
      • 1.2.1. Factors favorable to female ordination
      • 1.2.2. A question of religious politics
  • 2. Up against the stained-glass ceiling. Classical mechanisms of the construction of differences ?
    • 2.1. The limits of feminization : the “stained-glass ceiling”
    • 2.2. The principal mechanisms of the construction of a “religious gender”
      • 2.2.1. A question of “style” ?
      • 2.2.2. Choosing their vocation
      • 2.2.3. The organization of careers
      • 2.2.4. Impossible couples
      • 2.2.5. The weight of everyday interactions : justifying oneself in the face of resistance and its outcome
  • 3. Conclusion
  • References

Sociologie du Travail
Volume 52, Supplement 1, August 2010, Pages e22-e39
Translation : Gabrielle Varro