UMC clergywomen still receive substantially less compensation Length of service, age, seniority, and regionality account for some gaps in pay
by Magaela C. Bethune, MS, MPA
In 2011, it was reported by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women that clergywomen, on average, make 13% less than did clergymen. Four years later in 2015, full-time, active clergypersons who were women make a salary that is 16% less than that of men.
A recent study of U.S. clergy salaries, led by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women examined gender disparities in compensation using 2015 national data provided by Wespath Benefits and Investments. Researcher Magaela C. Bethune of the Department of Human and Organizational Development at Vanderbilt University used quantitative analytical methods to explore the gender composition of The United Methodist Church, and to explain how gender disparities persist, even while other influential factors are accounted for. The study found gender to be an influential determinant of salary and other types of compensation (e.g., housing allowance, parsonage).
A sample of compensation for the year 2015 for 11,235 full-time clergypersons across the U.S. was reported by Wespath to the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. The membership types of all clergypersons in the sample were 43.4% full-time local pastors; 3.4% deacons; 50.3% elders; and, 2.9% associate members. In the U.S., 35.5% of clergypersons were from the Southeastern Jurisdiction; 20.7% North Central; 19.4% South Central; 16.9% Northeastern; and, 7.5% Western. On average, clergypersons were 54.2 years old; had a length of service of 19.8 years; and received an annual salary of $57,512.
Clergywomen are generally underrepresented throughout the UMC organization.
Among the 11,235 clergypersons included in the study, 28.4% were women, and 71.6% were men. Gender composition (i.e. proportion of women) differs significantly across conference areas, with the proportion of women ranging from 13.3% to 49.1%. Women are underrepresented in the Southeastern Jurisdiction – the largest jurisdiction – when compared to other jurisdictions. Gender composition also differs significantly across membership types. Clergywomen have greater than average representation among elders (34.4%) and deacons (65.2%), but are significantly underrepresented among full-time local pastors (19.1%) and associate (22.4%) members.
Gender and Compensation
In 2015, on average, UMC clergywomen received eighty-four cents for every clergymen’s dollar in salary.
In 2015, women received substantially and significantly lower salaries than did men. When all types of compensation are considered (e.g., salary, housing allowance, and/or parsonage), women still received lower total compensation than did men.
Clergywomen, especially those who are deacons, were less likely than clergymen to receive a parsonage and more likely to report receiving only a salary.
In 2015, 59.3% (n=1,893) of all women and 63.3% (n=5,091) of all men clergypersons received a parsonage. Among the 6,984 clergypersons who received parsonages, 27.1% were women.
Among clergy who received parsonages in 2015, women, on average, received almost 12% less than men.
Clergywomen were equally likely as clergymen to receive a housing allowance; in 2015, 35.3% (n=1,127) of all women and 34.2% (n=2,753) of all men clergypersons received a housing stipend. Among the 3,880 clergypersons who received a housing stipend, 29.0% were women.
Among clergy who received a housing allowance in 2015, women, on average, received almost 14% less than men.
Gender Differences in Age and Length of Service
The age and length of service (in years) varies greatly between clergywomen and clergymen. On average, clergywomen have served fewer years than clergymen. On average women are statistically significantly younger than clergymen by less than a year.
On average, women are almost six years older than men when they become clergy.
Age and length of service are related among clergy, in general, and are more strongly related for clergymen. Analyses show that women (38.3 years old) become clergy at a substantially older age than do men (32.8 years old).
Summarily, there may be many reasons for the gap in compensation between clergymen and clergywomen in The United Methodist Church. Length of service, age, seniority and region of the country served may account for some of those differences. Other variables this study did not control for include the amount of education or previous work experience an individual had prior to becoming a clergy person, as well as race and ethnicity. Given the large sample size, as well as the rigorous statistical analysis, it is reasonable that the trends that are reported are valid and reliable for gender compensation comparisons. Moreover, we hope this study will encourage annual conferences to examine their own compensation practices toward the goal of equity for all in The United Methodist Church.
 “Women By the Numbers,” Kristen Knudsen, November, 2011
 Wespath Benefits and Investments is an agency of The United Methodist Church.
 Chi-square analysis was used to examine proportional differences in the gender composition of clergy across jurisdictions.
 Chi-square analysis was used to examine proportional differences in the gender composition of clergy across membership types.
 An independent samples t-test was performed to compare the 2015 salaries, housing allowances, parsonage, and total compensation in clergywomen and clergymen. There was a substantial and significant difference in the 2015 salary for women (M=$50,572.92, SD=$13,119.26) and men (M=$60,268.67, SD=$23,388.50); t(11,223)=23.90, p=<.001.
 Total compensation was computed by adding the 2015 salary, housing stipend, and/or parsonage of each clergyperson. There was a significant difference in the total compensation for women (M=$64,562.81, SD=$16,532.77) and men (M=$76,679.15, SD=$26,808.43); t(11,223)=23.81, p<.001.
 An independent samples t-test was performed for clergypersons who received parsonage (N=6984), and there was a significant difference for women (M=$12,821.09, SD=$3,066.66) and men (M=$14,535.15, SD=$4,318.47); t(6,982)=15.85, p<.001.
 And independent samples t-test was performed for clergypersons who received a housing stipend (N=3,880), and there was a significant difference for women (M=$18,113.03, SD=$7,514.80) and men (M=$21,052.75, SD=$10,096.08); t(6,982)=8.83, p<.001.
 An independent samples t-test was performed to compare the average length of service (in years), current age, and age at the start of service in women and men UMC clergypersons. There was a significant difference in the length of service (in years) for women (M=15.34, SD=8.57) and men (M=21.62, SD=10.74); t(29.52)=, p=<.001. There was a significant difference in the current age for women (M=53.72, SD=10.07) and men (M=54.40, SD=9.26); t(11,223)=3.41, p<.001.
 Bivariate correlation analysis was performed, first with all clergypersons, then separately by gender, in order to explore the relationship between the current age and length of service of clergy. For all clergy, the current age and length of service (in years) were moderately correlated, r(11,233)=.56, p<.001. Among clergywomen only, current age and length of service (in years) were still moderately correlated, r(3,192)=.43, p<.001. But, for clergymen, current age and length of service (in years) were strongly correlated, r(8,039)=.64, p<.001.
 Therefore, age at the start of service was computed by subtracting the years of service from the current age of clergypersons in 2015. An independent samples t-test was performed, and there was a significant difference in the age at the start of service for women (M=38.37, SD=10.01) and men (M=32.77, SD=8.65); t(11,223)=3.41, p=<.001.