Minding the Gap: Gender and Compensation in Churches and Ministries
Minding the Gap: Gender and Compensation in Churches and Ministries
How churches can provide equitable pay for the women and men they employ.

According to the EPI’s findings, though, “[t]he data on the gender wage gap are remarkably clear and (unfortunately) consistent about the scale of the gap. In simple terms, no matter how you measure it, there is a gap.”

What the gender gap looks like in churches

In recent years, Church Law & Tax has reported on this gap as it appears in churches and ministries. Three issues of Church Law & Tax’s monthly newsletter Church Finance Today—in 2011, 2014, and 2015—featured pieces on salaries for church staff, with each referencing gender as a concerning factor. A 2014 ManagingYourChurch.com post titled “The Pastor Pay Gap” commented that “even though the prevalence of women in leadership roles in the church is rising steadily, women’s salary levels are not keeping pace with their male counterparts.”

Two years later, in 2016, not much had changed. In January 2016, the Religion News Service (RNS) reported on the 2014 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data on male and female clergy’s national median income—the first time the BLS had been able to report those numbers, as they previously “could not make reliable estimates for women because of their relatively few numbers.” According to the BLS figures, “women clergy earn 76 cents for each dollar earned by male clergy,” which is 4 to 7 fewer cents than the estimated national gap.

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