In mid-July, a magazine covered the 40th anniversary of Title IX, a law passed in 1972 that requires gender equity for boys and girls in every educational program that receives federal funding. It was authored by Patsy Mink, a Japanese American woman educator, and the law set in motion a change in athletics as well — the repercussions of which are particularly significant in this year’s Olympic Games, as the US female athletes out-medalled the men, 58 to 45. More significantly, 29 women brought home a gold medal, compared to the 17 gold medals brought home by male athletes.
On a more personal note, I was able to “letter” in my school’s women’s tennis team and serve as the men’s wrestling team statistician because of Title IX. Similarly, my daughter received her first high school letter as a varsity basketball player this June. Through Title IX and other steps forward, we can commend the gains made in the last 40 years, though it is still a challenging world for women’s sports. Though US Women’s Basketball brought home its 5th gold, it was rare to find their games or their victory lauded across the news wires, nor their subsequent WNBA team games on prime time.
So why am I writing about women’s sports on an AAWOL blog, you might ask? To highlight another overlooked yet important milestone for women leaders in ministry. Sad to say, almost no celebrating happened for the 35th anniversary of a significant document. In 1987, former Fuller adjunct professor Ruth Tucker and co-author Walter Liefeld compiled a book for Zondervan Publishing called Daughters of the Church. This book included a historical record of women in the Bible, as well as women in ministry throughout history up to the mid-1900s, and had a significant contribution to the increase of women serving in ministry in the past 35 years. Maybe it’s time for a sequel? Could these authors ever have imagined the multitude of women of color that have a place in history because of the awareness their writings brought? And all they did was simply report the facts of history.
Every day is an anniversary of something significant. If you come across a significant “church woman,” commend her and continue to pray for her. Though women in ministry and the academy have little recognition, the need remains to bring women to the forefront. There is still little equity in the church for women in ministry, though gains have been made. There is also little equity in regards to open positions and pay. Who is celebrating a significant anniversary and can you and I and AAWOL bring it into the light?
Rev. Melanie Mar Chow serves God through Asian American Christian Fellowship, the campus ministry division of the Japanese Evangelical Missionary Society (JEMS). She has been an ordained American Baptist minister since 2004. A Pacific Northwest native, she currently lives with her husband and daughter in Southern California.