A friend of mine at Fuller has really challenged me recently regarding personal responsibility and sexism. As I reflect on my recent ugly encounter with sexism, I find myself wanting to believe those I considered friends, allegedly egalitarian, had no idea what they were doing and yet several people (several minorities) I have told the story to have a very different perspective and first impulse. They see motive and guilt where I see a mix of shades of gray shifting between personal responsibility and the hurt that results from ignorance over intent.
In the end, after processing this wise woman's perspective, I have shifted. After all is said and done, what a person does is what matters. Egalitarianism is not about believing men and women are equal, based on a set up theological convictions that disappear when we close our Bibles at night. It is not something you declare to your friends or print in magazines. It is practicing God's love, justice, and holiness in how you live your life, valuing others the way God values them. God demonstrated his love for us by sending his Son and the Bible calls us out of hypocrisy when it comes to the full participation of Jews, Gentiles, slaves, free-persons, men and women (Gal 1-3).
Here is where it gets tough. One has to sacrifice and risk. I've now heard several stories about women (some specifically women of color) who were extremely qualified for a position and the powers that be did not want them in power either overtly because they were female or for cryptic or petty reasons (women and minorities get dismissed for reasons "normal" people wouldn't). The reality is that as a woman, especially a black woman, one just does not "look" qualified or is ruled out because of a divine pronouncement that somehow favors those in power. This scenario that I have heard about in many forms these past months, has two endings: In the first (and the more dominant outcome) a white male who was egalitarian got the position and took it gladly or the second, the woman's coworkers stood up for her and she got the job. If you are in a position of authority and you see gender discrimination happening you must RISK your standing and reputation and fight against it. If you are the one being given the job and you are not qualified or as qualified, are you the type of person who will step aside? In the end, it is easy to say you support gender equality and quite another to--actually support it.
If you are an organization, it means putting your money and hiring where your mouth is. At the end of the day who is in charge? If only men operate in the highest levels of authority, it is very possible you just happen to have not found any qualified women, but highly improbable since there is a market surplus of educated women who do excellent work in their current mid-level positions. Mentor women with the aim of promoting them. HIRE women. Put women in charge. There are ample studies indicating your organization will bring in more money and be more successful in its mission, so no more excuses.
God did not design our world to run on patriarchy. That is a myth those who want to believe in male-only authority be it "servant" leadership or otherwise want to believe. If only men were more benevolent in their rule... The reality is that we all thrive when men and women are both in charge living out the creation mandate to rule the world.
Let's try God's economy for a change?