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Severe Underrepresentation of Women in Church Leadership in the Korean Immigrant Community in the United States

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Abstract:

Women are severely underrepresented in leadership roles and positions in Korean immigrant churches in the United States. Largely based on ethnographic research or casual observations, researchers have pointed to one or another of the following as a central factor in this underrepresentation: (1) the influence of Korean Confucian patriarchal traditions, (2) the conservative theological position of Korean churches, and (3) the practical need of Korean male immigrants to create high-status positions through ethnic churches. Although these three factors are intertwined and even reinforcing in the empirical world, this article intends to illustrate them empirically and pull them into a more analytic scheme. In particular, this article analyzes: (1) denominational affiliations of churches in South Korea and their official positions on female ordination to ministers and elders; (2) denominational affiliations of Korean immigrant churches in New York and their positions on women ordination; and (3) the proportion of women head pastors in churches in Korea and that of women head pastors in Korean immigrant churches in New York

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5906.2008.00404.x

Affiliations: Pyong G. Min is Professor of Sociology at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Publication date: 2008-06-01

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