MISSION of the Women's Caucus

Women’s Caucus: Religious Studies at the American Academy of Religion and Society for Biblical Literature


The Women’s Caucus: Religious Studies is a grass-roots group whose constituency includes women members of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society for Biblical Leadership (SBL). The Women’s Caucus is dedicated to representing the concerns of women in the AAR/SBL by planning and executing programs at the Annual Meeting as well as encouraging local programs for women at the Regional Meetings. The Women’s Caucus aims to provide networking possibilities among women and to foster, wherever possible, a culture of collaboration and mentoring among women in Religious Studies and “sister profession.”


A Brief History


The Women’s Caucus was founded in 1971 to provide advocacy, representation and a safe place to discuss concerns women faced in the academy at a time when few women held faculty positions and women had little change to determine the production of knowledge in the field. At that time women’s scholarship and women’s presence was over looked or trivialized. The Caucus membership was composed of women from AAR and SBL. An early sign of support from AAR/SBL was a formal letter indicating that the Caucus would be granted meeting space at annual meetings at no charge. However, the Status of Women in the Profession Committee reviewed the AAR’s relationship with the Women’s Caucus. The Women’s Caucus had enjoyed some unusual benefits such as free meeting time, listing on the AAR program, banking assistance and some catering. In the future the Women’s Caucus will operate as any other additional meeting and will be responsible for the payment of any fees, for its participation at the meeting.


During the 1980’s women leaders had begun to be recognized, but AAR and SBL were still dominated by male presence and male scholarship. During the 1990’s the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession was established in the AAR. Women from both the Committee and Caucus determined that their functions were both important but separate and that they Caucus provided an important autonomous voice within the academy. The first Survival Guide was written by Judith Plaskow and Rita Nakashima Brock through the Committee on the Status of Women in the Profession. In 2004, Mary E. Hunt published a new version of the survival guide, A Guide for Women and Religion: making Your Way from A to Z.


Founding Mothers and Sustaining Sisters

•Carol P. Christ (co-founder)

•Emily Culpepper (co-founder)

•Mary Daly (co-founder, deceased*)

•Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza (co-founder)

•Christine Downing (co-founder)

•Sallie TeSelle McFague (co-founder)

•Judith Plasgow

•Elaine Pagels

•Rita Gross

•Pat Reif (deceased*)

•Jacqueline Pastis

•Clare Fisher

•Barbara Anderson

•Mary E. Hunt

•Deanne Shapiro

•Elizabeth Say

•Cynthia Eller

•Lois Lorentzen