Monday, April 2, 2012

Women in the CCCU

This week, I'm going to do a 3-series post on gender issues at OBU. I have been accused of being a feminist by some of our critics (something I do not deny), but that is not my motivation for writing this series. My motivation comes from a few things which have already been mentioned on the blog.

First, we have already discussed that some of the most blatant discrepancies in the new OBU have been discriminating against women. There is the fact that a man was hired instead of a woman for a theology position despite unanimous support for the female candidate among the faculty search committee. In order to hire the new provost, a female administrator was, basically, demoted from a position as vice-president.

Furthermore, one of the major reasons Jacob asked me to collaborate on this blog is that I bring a female perspective which he does not have.

And finally, our first post about women at OBU is one of our most popular posts.

But before I talk specifically about the experience of women at OBU, I would like to contextualize it with some stats about women in the CCCU.

The CCCU is the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities-- of which OBU is a member. The CCCU describes itself as an "association of intentionally Christian colleges and universities." When describing their membership the CCCU website states:

"According to the U.S. Department of Education, there are over 4,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education in the United States. These include 1,600 private, nonprofit campuses, about 900 of which define themselves as religiously affiliated. However, only 116 intentionally Christ-centered institutions in the U.S. have qualified for membership in the Council for Christian College & Universities."

So what does this intentionally Christ-centeredness mean for women?

As far as leadership goes, currently only 6% of CCCU institutions have female presidents. (That's if you include Toccoa Falls College which has no president, but the current provost who is acting as president is female.) Although it is true that all universities are more likely to have male presidents, 6% is quite lower than the 26% of colleges total in America. In fact, 6% of CCCU schools in 2012 is less than the 10% of all schools in America in 1986.

So for women who want to lead, the odds are a lot better if your school isn't intentionally Christian.

CCCU schools have less female faculty than other schools (30.5% vs. 42%).

Female faculty at CCCU schools are less likely than male faculty to feel like male and female faculty are treated equally (54.3% vs. 76.7%).

Female faculty are also less likely than male faculty to feel that female and male students are treated equally (69.9% vs. 87.4%).

Female students, likewise, are less likely than male students to "strongly agree" that female and male students are treated equally (51.9% vs. 62.8%).

So what do all of these stats have to do with OBU and the BGCO? It shows that OBU is not alone in their struggles as far as women are concerned. Further, it seems to be that one of the dominant factors in this struggle is what kind of Christian values we are going to uphold and exhibit.

While OBU still has to cater to the politics of the BGCO, it will be less likely to lift up the kinds of Christianity which will not marginalize the majority (57%) of OBU students.

Again, who are we valuing? To whom are we listening as we interpret the scriptures and craft policies?


Samuel Joeckel, Thomas Chesnes, and editors, The Christian College Phenomenon: Inside America's Fastest Growing Institutions of Higher Learning (Abilene, Tex.: Abilene Christian University Press, 2012), 268-9, 282-3.


  1. "So for women who want to lead, the odds are a lot better if your school isn't intentionally Christian." How sad. And how arrogant that out of the many hundreds if not 1000+ Christian colleges out there, these people think they are the final arbiters of whether or not a school is "intentionally Christian." I know mainline Protestant and Catholic universities would disagree. OBU should leave this organization.

  2. Since some religious groups say that women are inferior, this is not surprising. This includes the SBC in the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message Statement.

  3. "The core idea is that of the human being as a dignified free being who shapes his or her own life in cooperation and reciprocity with others, rather than being passively shaped or pushed around by the world (or religion) in the manner of a flock or herd animal. A life that is really human is one that is shaped throughout by these human powers of practical reason and sociability."

    -Martha Nussbaum The quote listed above comes from Women and Human Development.

    The world is slowly making steps toward equality, but one of the predominant hindrances to social progress is the inherent androcentric perception of different major world religions. Some may view this dialogue of equality as tired or exaggerated, but it is obvious that there is not enough of this dialogue. I applaud the efforts of Save OBU and the contributors. I thank God that leaders are giving voice to the voiceless. I look forward to the many that will soon join the fight for equality for women, as well as the other oppressed populations.


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