UK's Christian gatherings still heavily male dominated, new study finds

The UK's Christian gatherings and festivals are still heavily biased in favour of male speakers, research released today has shown, with only a modest improvement on last year's figures.

According to Project 3:28, which monitors the gender balance at Christian events, there was a three per cent shift towards more female speakers in 2017, but only one of 18 listed events, the Church and Media conference, achieved 50 per cent women.

In 2017, the UK Christian platform was on average 61 per cent male and 39 per cent female, the research reveals.

The Greenbelt Christian festivalAlex Baker Photography

The National Youth Ministry Weekend came second best after the Church and Media Conference, (with 51 per cent male speakers and 49 per cent female), followed by the Christian festivals New Wine (54/46) and Greenbelt (55/45).

Faring worst were the Keswick Convention (91 per cent male and 9 per cent female), Ichtus Revive (83/17), Word Alive (78/22), Westpoint (74/26), Creationfest (72/28) and London Bible Week (71/29).

The evangelical London church Holy Trinity Brompton's Leadership Conference has improved, from 75 male and 25 per cent female in 2015, when it last held the event, to 57 per cent male to 43 per cent female last year.

However, HTB's other event, Focus, remains only 33 per cent female suggesting that the organisational culture may not have shifted.

As a new event, Naturally Supernatural had an opportunity to build an equal platform from the beginning, but only one of its 11 main stage speakers was female.

The statistics are gathered either from data available in the public domain or they have been provided by event organisers.

The research originated when, in November 2013, the Christian activists Helen Austin and Natalie Collins first collated the number of male and female speakers at Christian conferences across the UK.

Natalie Collins, a gender justice campaigner, said: 'It's great to see that the Christian platform has become three per cent more balanced over 2017, particularly as we know that some events like New Wine, Spring Harvest and Greenbelt continue to be intentional in their efforts.

Natalie Collins

'It is encouraging to see events make an effort, but we hope that organisations continue to be aware of the need to build a culture which raises female leaders and recognises the many barriers to women achieving to the same level as men.

'In light of this, we're extremely excited to be opening the Project 3:28 database for all female Christian speakers in March and hope this will become a brilliant resource for event organisers.'

The events that have improved the most are the HTB Leadership Conference (up 18 per cent from 2015), the Church and Media Conference (Up 17 per cent from 2016), Faith Camp (up 12 per cent from 2016), New Horizon (up nine per cent from 2016) and Westpoint (up eight per cent from 2016).

Over the last year the organisers have been developing the Project 3:28 database, to provide female speakers and event organisers with a record to increase the amount of women speaking at Christian events.

In 2016, 37 supporters donated £5,715 to the project. The organisers will be presenting a first look at the database on International Women's Day, March 8, 2018, and inviting women to sign up to it.

The project's name originates from Galatians 3:28: 'There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.'