24 Creating Pathways

Creating Pathways (and Reducing Barriers) for Women In Organizational Leadership

December 4-5, 2017


As many entities desire to involve more women in their leadership structures (field or executive roles), what might be unintended barriers and unrecognized opportunities in this direction? Why do these gifted women seem so hard to find? And when we find them, why do they seem hesitant to step forward? How can we create more avenues to find, develop, support, and retain more gifted women to bring the perspective and talent that we desire for our organizations?

We will explore 30 areas of unconscious gender bias that have been identified through research and are commonly (and often surprisingly) at play in the ways we function. As we identify those unintended barriers that may be at work in our own organizational cultures, we are free to think creatively about removing and replacing them with processes that more accurately reflect our goals and help us accomplish our mission.

We will also consider a variety of organizational practices that can help us move toward organizational cultures that invite, develop, and support women with leadership gifts and experience. By discussing several case studies from evangelical organizations that have grappled successfully with these issues, we can begin to cultivate readiness, embrace desired change, and establish ongoing pathways to bring the gifts of women more fully to bear alongside their brothers in Christ. The Image of God displayed and at work!

Who is this for?

  • Mission Organization Decision-Makers (Executive Level, HR/Personnel)
  • Field Staff Leadership
  • Church leadership (Pastors, Elders, Dir. of Ops/Personnel)

Types of Scenarios

  • Due to retirements, an international mission director is facing leadership needs at the executive and field level. As recommendations came in from within the mission he noticed that they were all men. He knew that there were gifted women in the mission, some who had actually been filling vacancies practically, so why weren’t they on the list?
  • A large mission organization began a serious evaluation of their leadership traditions. As they looked at their Board, executive leadership and field leadership teams, they recognized that there were no women bringing needed perspective to their goals and challenges, though over half of their mission staff were women with often untapped gifts. How did this develop and how might it change?
  • A CEO had a list of men and women who were experts in a variety of fields and he hoped to tap them to offer that expertise in a leadership conference. By the time he had made his way through the invitations, very few women accepted though they were highly qualified. He found this puzzling . . . and frustrating!

Your Facilitators

Leanne Dzubinski served overseas as a church planter, educator, and trainer for missionaries for 17 years with Greater Europe Mission. During that time she also studied mission-related issues such as acculturation and women’s contributions to missions. Now she teaches in the Cook School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University. Her research focuses on women in leadership, particularly executive-level women leaders in mission organizations.

Wendy Wilson has served in various capacities in leadership training ministry since 1984, Wendy’s great joy is envisioning and equipping women to participate fully in the grand calling of the Great Commission. With a BBA from Texas A&M University, and an MABS from Dallas Theological Seminary, Wendy has led inter-mission and inter-confessional equipping efforts for 30+ years, having lived and traveled abroad for most of those years. She now serves as the Mission Advisor – Development of Women for Missio Nexus, and as the founder and Executive Director for the collaborative Women’s Development Track.


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