Factors that hinder women's participation in theological education in Kenya
James, Ruth Muthei
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This study identifies and discusses factors that hinder women's participation in theological education in Kenya. Reference is made to theological institutions that belong to two church traditions, namely, the main line protestant and evangelical traditions. The study seeks to address the paradox of under representation of women in institutions that have openings for them. The objectives of the study are; To analyze the status of women in the history of Christianity since its inception, to identify and assess the modalities applied in admitting women into theological institutions in Kenya, to identify and discuss factors that influence women's experiences in theological institutions in Kenya, and, to identify and evaluate strategies that could enhance the participation of women in theological education in Kenya. To achieve the above objectives, ten theological institutions have been selected on the basis of their church affiliations as well as the academic programs they offer. The study concentrates on institutions that offer diploma, bachelors and masters programs. The significance of these programmes is that the institutions that offer them are interdenominational and the fact that churches in the study only ordain persons that are trained at diploma level and above. The mam argument of this study is that women are under represented in theological education in Kenya. This has been authenticated by the examination of the actual numbers of women students and faculty in theological institutions. Their numbers are much lower than those of men, a factor that has been attributed to the attitude of churches toward theological education for women and the type of ministries open to women in the churches. The entire study portrays women in a struggle to venture into theological education. The struggle begins with their access to theological institutions. Once enrolled, they struggle through college life with administrative and social structures that are unfavourable to them. After graduating from college, women struggle with job placement as well as acceptance by those they are to serve. The study identifies three main factors that hinder women's access to and their experiences in theological institutions. They are; The structures of theological institutions, policies of churches that sponsor theological institutions, and, African culture. It has been confirmed in this study that churches have a direct and powerful influence in the enrolment of students, appointment of teaching staff, as well as the formulation of the curricula taught. Consequently, a church's view of the status and role of women in its ministry influences their enrolment in theological institutions. This study employs the concepts of the 'lenses of gender' theory by Sandra Bem (1993). The lenses are; androcentrism, gender polarization and biological essentialism: The analysis establishes that the characteristics exhibited by the three lenses interact to reproduce male power in human institutions. In such setups, females and males are channeled into different and unequal life situations with the females being relegated to the subordinate sphere and the males to the super ordinate sphere. Finally, the study offers suggestions 111 form of strategies that could enhance women's participation 111 theological education. They are; Advocacy, transformation of the structures of theological institutions and churches, and, the revision of the curricula of theological institutions. Networking among women and between women and men in theological studies and in the church has also been advanced as a strategy.