The UK's Christian festivals are still heavily biased in favour of male speakers, research released today has shown.
According to Project 3:28, which monitors the gender balance at Christian events, nine events showed an improvement in gender parity between 2015 and 2016, but overall there was no change. The average platform at a Christian event is 64 per cent male and 36 per cent female.
The project ranks 22 different conferences and festivals. The best performers in 2016 were the Ichthus network's Revive festival and young adult-focused The Pursuit, both of which featured an equal split of male and female speakers.
In second place was the Premier Digital Conference (18 men and 16 women speaking, 53/47 per cent), with New Wine in third place (153 men and 115 women, 57/43 per cent).
The event that demonstrated the best gender parity in both 2014 and 2015 – the Baptist Assembly – achieved joint third place in 2016 along with Greenbelt festival (both with a 58/42 per cent split).
The events held in 2016 with the fewest women speaking were Keswick (27 men and four women, 87/13 per cent), followed by Newfrontiers' Westpoint (an 82/18 per cent split) and Faith Camp (79/21 per cent).
According to Project 3:38, at events run by more conservative organisations and churches, women are unlikely to be billed as 'main stage' teachers. However, it said, the numbers of women speaking at seminars and other sessions at such events remain extremely low, something that could be improved without departing from a more conservative viewpoint on gender.
'It's interesting that in our fourth year of gathering data, this is the first year we haven't seen any improvement in the gender balance at Christian events, perhaps suggesting that improving the number of female speakers is something that event organisers are seeing as less of an ongoing responsibility and more of a short-term project,' said Natalie Collins, part of the Project 3:28 collective.
'On a positive note it is great to see new events like The Pursuit being intentional about having a balanced platform. I hope the report continues to encourage events to take action to improve their gender balance and enables event-goers to make intentional choices about going to events that are seeking to represent the fullness of God's call on both women and men.'