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?