International (MNN) — In Part Two of our series about women in leadership, MNN is going “straight to the source.” As women in roles of leadership themselves, Kӓrin Primuth of Asian Access and Wendy Wilson with Missio Nexus have a lot to say on the subject. In this article, Kӓrin and Wendy explore the “pros and cons” surrounding the issue of women in leadership.
Women in Leadership: “Pros”
As the CEO of visionSynergy and the only woman on the Asian Access Board of Directors, Kӓrin Primuth has plenty of first-hand experience to share. Primuth says she has “naturally gravitated” toward positions of responsibility throughout her life.
“I was very fortunate to not really have gender be an issue in my ‘growing up’ years, so I never felt like being a woman was a barrier or prevented me from stepping into opportunities for leadership,” Primuth states.
“I think for many who move [to positions of leadership], especially within a Christian ministry or mission context, they aren’t necessarily aspiring to a role like that. It’s often a fairly ‘meandering’ journey, and eventually they may be asked into a position because their leadership gifts have been recognized. I know that’s certainly been the case for me.”
Women in leadership positions are often called “career-minded,” and it can be assumed that female leaders prioritize work over family responsibilities. Stepping away from work to start a family is sometimes seen as a “deal-breaker” for young women in leadership.
“We can tend to see those years at home with our kids as a barrier to progress,” Wilson observes.
But for Primuth, it’s more about life seasons than making an either/or decision. Becoming a “stay-at-home mom” didn’t mean she stopped being a leader; rather, opportunity took on a different shape.
“I continued to build a lot of skills in those years, even as a young mom. I didn’t feel like I had to step out [away from]…leadership development opportunities,” Primuth says.
Volunteering in her church and community helped Primuth learn how to organize events, lead diverse people groups, and it equipped her for public speaking.
“I think that’s one thing I would encourage women who have a sense of giftedness in providing leadership: continue to nurture those skills and abilities, even if [it means stepping out] of formal roles of responsibilities.”
Women in Leadership: “Cons”
The advantages and disadvantages of placing women in leadership roles may differ for each organization, family, and individual. But as Wendy Wilson shares, more and more mission agencies are looking for women leaders.
“Missio Nexus [desires] to help more agencies steward well the gifts of their women,” Wilson says. “Part of my role is to help them figure out ways to do that.”
Wilson shares three obstacles she often encounters when helping ministries develop women leaders:
- Traditional/cultural barriers
- Structural barriers
- Personal barriers
“If we can think through those, probably a lot of barriers would kind of ‘dissolve,'” she shares.
When barriers come down and women start to develop their leadership skills, “They begin to gain more confidence and vision for how they can serve, and other people notice what they’re doing and how they’re able to serve.”
Women in Leadership and you
This series isn’t limited to women or people in leadership. However God has shaped you, and wherever He has placed you, you can respond to this story by taking action.
First of all, pray for women in leadership positions around the world. Ask the Lord to help women realize their gifts and become the people He’s designed them to be. Secondly, if you do happen to be a woman, ask the Lord if He’s designed you to be a leader.
“If you are drawn to be in a role to provide leadership, in some kind of context, look for ways to see how God would open the door for you to be able to use those gifts,” Primuth advises.
Tomorrow, Kӓrin and Wendy share the spiritual impact and opportunities surrounding the topic of women in leadership.
Listen to the broadcast (story starts at 1:55)
- Originally published on Mission Network News
- Download the audio broadcast: http://www.asianaccess.org/mnn/4-5min-Oct30-2014.mp3
- Photo credits: Cover photo courtesy UN Women; photo of Wendy Wilson courtesy Steve Wilson via Flickr; third image courtesy RHM/OEW; fourth photo courtesy Bethany.
- Related Story: Women in Leadership: Part One