Female clergy in the United Methodist Church (UMC) are underrepresented and underpaid, according to a report published in late October.
Women comprise more than half of all UMC members, but only 31.8% of all UMC clergy were females in 2020.
Of the five UMC jurisdictions, female clergy were most common in the Northeastern region (34.9%), followed by North Central (34.5%), Western (31.9%) South Central (31.4%) and Southeastern (27.4%).
Female clergy in the UMC are also paid less than their male counterparts. Overall, female clergy make 8.2% less than male clergy.
The average salary for a male UMC pastor is $61,719, while the average salary for a female UMC pastor is $54,816 – a difference of $6,903. The largest pay gap is in the South Central region with a $10,543 pay gap, followed by Southeastern ($7,587), North Central ($4,203), Western ($4,101) and North Eastern ($3,163).
“If we don’t expose it, we will never fix it,” said Pamela Pirtle, director of leadership development and accountability for the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women, in a press release announcing the report. “So, we’re just … trying to put it out in the open so that we are mindful, because many people didn’t know.”
Income disparity isn’t isolated to salary alone, the report found, as female UMC clergy receive lower housing allowance and parsonage allotment, as well.
Male UMC clergy received an overall average of $2,474 more than their female counterparts in housing allowance, with the greatest disparity in the South Central region at $3,846. When it comes to parsonage allotments, male clergy received $1,269 more than female clergy, with the largest gap being $2,203 in the South Central region.
Accounting for all forms of compensation, UMC female clergy receive an average of $8,630 less than male clergy, with the greatest disparity being $13,423 in the South Central region.
There are only two annual conferences in which female clergy make slightly more than male clergy: Arkansas ($97,888 for females and $97,826 for males) and Minnesota ($70,678 for females and $70,545 for males). For all other conferences, the pay for male clergy was between $2,124 and $24,149 greater than for female clergy.
“It is plausible that factors, such as years of service or clergy membership type can sometimes influence how clergy are compensated; in general, these factors were found to be salient in the 2020 data,” the report said. “When analyses were conducted, controlling for age, years of service, clergy member type, and jurisdiction, clergywomen still received significantly less salary than men in 2020 in the following conferences: Central Texas, East Ohio, Iowa, and North Georgia.”
The full report is available here.