WASHINGTON (June 30, 1999) -- Women hold nearly half of diocesan administrative and professional positions, according to a survey released by the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Women in Society and in the Church.
The report analyzed data from 1998, which show that women occupy approximately one-quarter of top diocesan positions and from 40-60 percent of middle management and non-supervisory professional positions.
Overall, women make up 46.6 percent of the administrative and professional employees in diocesan central offices, compared to 44.4 percent of the U.S. workforce as a whole.
The study was conducted by the National Association of Church Personnel Administrators at the request of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Committee on Women in Society and in the Church. In a 1998 statement, From Words to Deeds, the Committee urged that women be appointed to church leadership positions and that progress towards that goal be tracked and evaluated.
Archbishop John G. Vlazny, chairman of the Committee on Women, called the survey "good news" for the church as well as women.
"The women who have prepared themselves for these roles and have come forth to accept them deserve our gratitude. So, too, do the bishops, who by appointing women to responsible diocesan positions recognize their many gifts and talents" he said.
"The church looks forward to welcoming even more women into lay leadership roles in parishes and dioceses all around the country,"Archbishop Vlazny added.
Fifty percent of the U.S. Latin-rite dioceses participated in the survey, which included 55 specific diocesan positions, including heads of pastoral services, personnel, community services and education.
The study examined the 1995-1998 period and found small but steady growth. In 1995, women held 44.5 percent of the surveyed positions; in 1998, they had 46.6 percent.
The survey also found that women are more apt to be found in pastoral and educational positions than in financial and facilities management positions.
The survey showed that smaller dioceses have a somewhat larger percentage of women in high-level positions than larger dioceses. (Size is measured in number of Catholics in the diocese).
Larger dioceses report an average of 42 percent of women administrative and professional staff in the 1995-1998 period, while small and medium sized dioceses averaged 47-48 percent in the same period.
The South is the strongest employer of women in administrative and professional positions, averaging 52.3 percent over the four-year period, followed by the West at 50.6 percent. The Midwest and Central regions averaged 44 percent, while the Northeast reported 38.2 percent.
The study may be found on the Women's Committee Website at www.nccbuscc.org/laity/women.