Buried Talents

Buried Talents

Overcoming Gendered Socialization to Answer God's Call

by Susan Harris Howell
Foreword by Mimi Haddad

Buried Talents
  • Length: 152 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: April 26, 2022
  •  Forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-1-5140-0250-6
  • Item Code: A0250
  • Case Quantity: 68

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."

Christa L. McKirland, Logia International, lecturer in systematic theology at Carey Baptist College

"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."

Aída Besançon Spencer, senior professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and coeditor and author of Christian Egalitarian Leadership

"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."

Rob Dixon, associate regional ministry director with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and author of Together in Ministry: Women and Men in Flourishing Partnerships


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
Discussion Guide


Susan Harris Howell (EdD, University of Louisville) is professor of psychology at Campbellsville University, where she teaches on gender studies and integrating faith and psychology. She frequently writes and speaks for Christians for Biblical Equality.