I have been aware for a long time that many of the spirituality and arts programs I am involved in tend to draw mostly women to them. Our Awakening the Creative Spirit program this year is 12 wonderful women (last year we had two great men participate out of 13 participants). Our Monthly Gatherings which average 15-20 tend to usually be all women.
I thought this was perhaps due to the combination of spirituality and the arts. I was very surprised when I started teaching at the School of Theology and Ministry this fall that out of my 29 students, only 4 are men. When I asked the class if this was the usual breakdown for Seattle U, I was told they were surprised to have that many men there. A curious phenomenon to me, because my class is required for all degree students, so it includes those seeking a Master of Divinity in addition to those pursuing degrees in spirituality or pastoral ministry.
I adore working with groups of women, but I also love the energy men bring to a group and wonder what would attract more men to these kinds of programs. I am beginning to wonder if we are experiencing a slow pendulum swing and in twenty years or so we will have men finding that church leadership and spirituality is too feminine and doesn't reflect their experiences.
So this is a request to hear especially from men about participation in spirituality programs. Do you participate in retreats, classes, or workshops? What kinds of programs draw you? I know I have at least a few male readers like Ron, Antony, Jorge, and Rich (all of whom have wonderful blogs and worth a visit). I invite your feedback and other men out there reading this.
I also would love to hear from women if they have any ideas or insights about this as well.
Are you experiencing this imbalance of men and women in spirituality programs in your corner of the world as well?
-Christine Valters Paintner