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Special difficulties arise for women even today if they wish to pursue their career as Protestant ministers. These difficulties are partly the disadvantages experienced also by women in other professions – like horizontal segregation and glass ceiling, expectations based on traditional gender roles, stereotypes and prejudices, or even discrimination –, but partly they derive from peculiarities not characteristic of secular professions, which mostly have to do with expectations related to roles based on the conservative values and norms characteristic of religious environments as well as with the fact that conditions and expectations have been tailored to men traditionally in this profession. In spite of these difficulties more and more women are choosing the ministerial profession all over the world, including Hungary. Our study investigates how the ministerial profession is constructed for women. We have focused on the formative personal decisions made in the course of women’s career as ministers as well as on those respective influences exercised by their personal environment and the religious institutions that had impact on their decisions. We have provided an overview of the career decisions made by female ministers along with criteria and difficulties related to the decisions. We drew the conclusion that the decisions outline three typical career strategies for female ministers. It is characteristic of all three career strategies that the decisions related to private life and the decisions related to the profession are very intertwined and interdependent. We argue that secular professions tend to be quite different from the ministerial profession in this respect. This study is based on our research („Nők a lelkészi pályán” NKFIH K-128313) in which we have analyzed 26 in-depth interviews with female ministers.

Keywords: clergywomen, ministerial career, personal and career decisions, gender roles, gendered expectations

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