July 31, 2007

Conscious Efforts to Mentor Professional Women

A great interview appeared recently on CT's website. Bonnie Wurzbacher is a Coca Cola VP and a professing Christian. The subtitle of this interview is "Where are All the Women Leaders?" Go here to read the full article.

I'm thrilled to see professional career women coming out and discussing their faith, but even moreso, challenging us with the fact that there are women entering into professions and few mentors to guide them. Everything matters to God, and women entering the workforce are as much in need of mentors as are women who choose to remain at home and raise families. Almost every time I speak somewhere, I find myself asking, where are the young women? I'm not sure how well traditional women's ministry is ministering to young women......I think we're in the midst of a paradigm shift. What do you think?

5 comments:

Kim said...

I've read, too, that younger women are leaving the workforce more and more once they begin a family. Perhaps it is all coming together in a perfect storm - few women mentors AND younger women staying home. We don't want to work 90+ hours a week and either forego or neglect our families; we're looking for some sort of "balance" in life. Extremely strong career drive is usually the model we often see in women mentors that ARE out there. As amazing as Bonnie W. is (and I've heard her speak on Christian women in the workplace), she had a heavy, heavy workload when she was my age (and still does, I'm sure). I don't know, if push came to shove, that I'd be willing to give up those precious few hours in the evening with my kids in order to become the next VP of a college.
Also, at my former church, the women in my age-group liked to be involved in women's ministry but didn't take the time. Most, maybe all, had young children. The other church members were unhappy that in church activities there was a large hole in the body, out of that demographic. I myself grew up in a family that was in church ministry practically every waking moment I wasn't in school, and I don't feel I was harmed by having less so-called "quality-time" at home.
Anyhow, I just wanted to state that it isn't all that there is a lack of women mentors - but that it is also what I perceive to be shift towards the different priorities and desires of Gen X and Y, as compared to those of previous generations.

Sarah J. Flashing said...

I, too, have read the recent stats about young women leaving the workforce to start/maintain their families. A family should never suffer as a result of a parent's career aspirations (that goes for dads too). My point is that for every woman who comes back home, there are many other women in the workforce. Michael Wittmer does an excellent job highlighting the creation mandate in his book "Heaven is a Place on Earth." In it, he points out that vocation can and should be consider ministry as much as the pastorate or any other form of church ministry. So for women like Bonnie Wurzbacher who is a professional working to the glory of God, and the women who are just like her (and there are a lot of them) how are we ministering to them today? And how are we embracing that they may not have been called to settle into marriage and raise a family yet, but are partaking in another part of the creation mandate? This is where we need to look closely, especially in women's ministry...I think we need to diversify.

Kim said...

Sarah, I think you make an excellent point and I wish, wish, wish that we could come up with answers - in both arenas: single or married w/o children women in the workforce AND women with children working due to need or to choice. I feel the desire is keen on the mentees part and, as Bonnie W. states, is also felt by women currently in positions to mentor. But a) there MUST be more potential mentors out there, right? and b) such mentors would be linked to mentees primarily through mentees' searching. How would thoughtful people organize such an effort? I don't know. As I said, I wish we did know because I'd love to benefit from such knowledge.

Sarah J. Flashing said...

Kim, perhaps that's my point. Bonnie from Coca Cola was/is looking for the mentors, but I think the reality is this....many Christian women just like Bonnie are in the workforce and can be the mentors that young women called to various professions are in need of. The problem I see is that the church is so absorbed in its sacred/secular perspective that it struggles to see the ministerial value of nonchurch vocations. So as more women like Bonnie are becoming more known, this is an opportunity for women's ministries to help shape the church's understanding of ministry - the cultural mandate - and consider a true expansion of the focus of women's ministries. It's time to take an 'out of the box' approach for the sake of the entire Kingdom.

Kim said...

I couldn't agree more that women can and should serve God in every capacity. I too have observed a sort of "snobbery," if you will that if you are not in full time vocational missions that you are not fully serving the Lord or that you are not doing as much for His Kingdom as others. It's really too bad since we are all called to do a specific purpose in the body of Christ and that specific purpose is specific to the woman.

I've also just read your posting from a few days ago about a young Christian women's leadership event and please put me down for more information.
Thanks!