If God is calling women to lead, what's holding them back?
Susan Harris Howell has spent years helping students investigate this question. In Buried Talents, she makes clear how gender disparity in leadership is directly connected to a larger, less overt issue: gendered socialization. Howell examines gendered messages people encounter inside and outside the church in each stage of life, showing how they often create misconceptions about who women are, what they're capable of, and how they fit into God's work. As these messages pull men toward leadership, they push women away from it.
God's call to leadership doesn't come in a vacuum. It comes to particular people who have, from childhood through adulthood, been shaped by subtle forms of socialization. Using social science research and interviews to explain these forces, Howell offers psychological and practical tools for both women and men to make more balanced vocational decisions. A discussion guide and suggested reading lists are also included to help readers engage and apply the content.
As opportunities for women continue to expand, too many still hold back in responding to God's call. Buried Talents provides compelling guidance for how we can remove obstacles that keep women from fully using their gifts.
"The cumulative effect of gendered socialization is profound. With clarity and precision, psychologist Dr. Susan Harris Howell diagnoses what gendered socialization is as well as the problems it has caused. Focused primarily on the United States, she examines layer upon layer of accumulated messages that men are superior to women. Often subtle, these ideas permeate educational practices, media portrayals, linguistic conventions, division-of-labor expectations, and more. Tragically, the outworking of such socialization often results in women's opting out of their God-given callings—burying their talents under sedimented layers of 'you can't' or 'you shouldn't.' By understanding these patterns and systems, we can unearth the talents that have been buried, and even more hopefully, empower the next generation to invest their talents with confidence."
"Some may think today that the battle for women's leadership is done. However, Dr. Howell shows us the many implicit ways women and men are socialized from childhood to adulthood to discourage women from following God's call into church leadership. She ends her sobering account with chapters on individually and communally restoring self-confidence and honest self-appraisal. Buried Talents is a stimulus for change that all should read. It ends on a note of hope."
"In Buried Talents, psychologist Susan Harris Howell shines a light on the subtle but potent forces of socialization that tend to prevent women from serving in church leadership. This work of illumination is a gift to the church, offering a way out of the confines of gender essentialism and into a world where women and men can truly flourish."
List of Tables
1. Gendered Socialization in Childhood
2. Gendered Socialization in Adolescence
3. Gendered Socialization in Adulthood
4. Two Stories: Sarah and Michael
5. Creating More Accurate Self-Perceptions
6. Building a Support System
7. Paying It Forward