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Faith traditions lack support for female leaders, experts say

By Linda Brooks

The panel included, clockwise from top left, Jue Liang, Ingrid Mattson, Carolyn Woo, and Emilie Townes.

Women have made great progress in business and politics, but in the world of male-dominated religious faiths, acceptance in leadership roles is still difficult to achieve, although slow change is happening.

That was one of the conclusions drawn at a Dec. 9 panel discussion of “Women’s Evolving Influence in Male-led Faiths,” sponsored by the Associated Press, Religion News Service and TheConversation.org.

In 1974, the Episcopal Church was one of the earliest Christian denominations to ordain women, a move that was very controversial. In 1988, Barbara Harris was the first woman elected as a bishop.

Women’s voices are heard in other faith organizations but without the legitimacy of ordination or title, their voices are not heard or accepted at the same level as their male counterparts.

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