Systemic Scapegoating and the Executive Derailment of Female Protestant Clergy Lynn Horan, MDiv, MA, PhD (2024)
Research overview: Currently engaged in a doctoral research initiative that seeks to identify the contributing factors to the significant rise in Gen X and Millennial female clergy attrition within mainline American Protestantism. Despite the longstanding history of female ordination in these more progressive religious institutions, there is a pervasive and systemic process of scapegoating and executive derailment of young female clergy, particularly those who set healthy boundaries around their pastoral role.
Through a 2-year needs assessment based in grounded-theory qualitative research, this study identifies the contributing factors to the rise in female clergy attrition during early and mid-career stages. Through in-depth interviews and comparative analysis, this research explores the impact of ingrained gender expectations, inter-generational conflict, systemic scapegoating practices, and denominational complacency, as it relates to female clergy boundaries and psychological safety.
Gain greater understanding of the lived experiences of Gen X and Millennial female Protestant clergy
Build pathways of advocacy for female clergy, local congregations and denominational governance
Support long-term vocations of female clergy and give voice to those who have left or are currently leaving active ministry
Specific areas of inquiry:
Boundary permeability and deep-rooted conflict within congregational life
Physical and psychological safety of female pastoral leaders
Ingrained gender expectations and enabling behaviors of parishioners
Pathways for legal, financial and emotional support for targeted female clergy
Trauma recovery and alternative career trajectories
Research funding generously provided by:
Antioch University, Founders' Award
Synod of the Northeast, Innovation Grant Program
Christian Feminism Today, Nancy Hardesty Memorial Scholarship