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One third of festival speakers are women

09 January 2015


Faith stories: Rachel Gardner at New Horizon 2014, at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, in August 

Faith stories: Rachel Gardner at New Horizon 2014, at the University of Ulster, Coleraine, in August 

CHRISTIAN conferences had more women speakers in 2014 than the previous year, but the majority of those taking part were still men.

Research by Natalie Collins, a blogger and activist, has found that while in 2013, 24 per cent of those on the platforms at 23 of the largest Christian conferences and festivals in the UK were women, this figure rose to 34 per cent last year.

None of the events surveyed in 2014 had a majority of women speakers. Only two of the events managed an even balance of female and male speakers: the Baptist Assembly and the Church and Media Conference. Almost all of the conferences, however, had a higher proportion of women on their stages in 2014 than in 2013.

The most male-heavy events were the Keswick Convention and the Big Church Day Out. Of the speakers at both events, 86 per cent were male, and just 14 per cent female.

The festivals and conferences that increased their proportion of women speakers the most were the Baptist Assembly (up by 25 per cent from 2013), New Horizon (up by 21 per cent), and One Event, which was up by 22 per cent, although five of the six women who contributed in 2014 did so in seminars with their husbands.

Mrs Collins began her survey in 2013, after hearing of a similar idea in the United States (News, 29 November 2013). Speaking then, she said: "The pattern here is better than in the US, which is 19 per cent. But a lot of these organisers are very pro-women in their rhetoric but are not doing it in practice."

The figures were reached by trawling through conference websites and recordings, and speaking to some of the events' organisers.

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