Are Women Elders Paid Less than Men? A brief report from the North Carolina Statewide Longitudinal Survey of United Methodist Clergy


Our analysis suggests that, while male elders have significantly higher salaries than their female counterparts, these two groups have been equitably compensated for the past decade. These two phenomena can both exist because past gender disparities reverberate long into the careers of clergy. This is because, even though salaries across genders may be treated equally now, they are not making up for lost ground. For example, women starting in ministry in 1990 may have experienced the same rate of salary growth as men from 2010 to 2020, but earned less during this timeframe because they entered this period with lower initial salaries than men. For this reason, our model predicts that, although the salary trajectories for men and women were equal starting ministry in 2010, it may be another decade before there is no difference between the average salaries of men and women pastors. Nevertheless, this projection assumes that recent trends persist—something that remains to be seen. Only time will tell if this continues or if women will hit a glass ceiling as their careers unfold.

Review of Religious Research