Pinker, former director of MIT’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, writes about the hot button topic of gender differences in his book, Blank Slate. He begins the discussion with an explanation of the two schools of feminist thought: Equity feminism is part of the classical liberal tradition and opposes sexual discrimination and unfairness to women. Gender feminism is opposed to the classical liberal tradition and aligns itself more with postmodernism and radical science. This belief holds that “women continue to be enslaved by a pervasive system of male dominance.” He goes on to reveal his evidence that contrary to the statements of gender feminists, the differences between men and women are biological, and not simply formed by the way they are treated in society.
However, these differences, though biological according to Pinker, do not mean that one gender is superior over the other. He acknowledges the reality of issues such as the gender pay gap and glass ceilings but suggests these inequalities may have more than one explanation. He describes the current conversation on these limitations as follows:
“…the gender gap is almost always analyzed in the following way. Any imbalance between men and women in their occupations or earnings is direct proofed gender bias–if not in the form of overt discrimination, then in the form of discouraging messages and hidden barriers. The possibility that men and women might differ from each other in ways that affect what jobs they hold or how much they get paid may never be mentioned in public, because it will set back the cause of equity in the workplace and harm the interests of women…
…The problem with this analysis is that inequality of outcome cannot be used as proof of inequality of opportunity unless the groups being compared are identical in all of their psychological traits, which is likely to be true only if we are blank slates.”
Ironically, this is a topic on which Steven Pinker’s Blank Slate and Jordan Peterson agree. Peterson is (in)famous for his television interview discussing the gender gap. Also, in many of his writings, he explains that “the gender gap in pay, which is caused by many factors, can be attributed to male/female personality differences and not to simple discrimination.” He seems to be taking a page from Pinker with the declarative, “Given that the differences in temperament and interest help determine occupational choice, and that difference in occupational choice drives variability in such things as income, it follows that political doctrines that promote equality of opportunity also drive inequality of outcome.” It seems Pinker and Peterson may be more alike than they would like to admit.
This is a difficult conversation. In today’s cultural climate, the suggestion that the gender gap could be caused by any reason other than direct discrimination is not always received well. This is also true in church leadership. Within the church, there are multiple influences on the roles or titles offered to women such as different backgrounds or theological positions. This is an issue of opportunity. However, it is all too common for churches to pay women less for the same job. Kadi Cole points out that churches often have practices that cause women to be paid less than men for the same role. She uses the example of two youth pastors, one a single woman and the other a man with a family. Some churches would view it as kind and pastoral to offer the man more money and benefits to care for his family. This is an issue of outcome.
Pinker would say that the sciences of human nature can strengthen the interests of women by separating the real issues from the herrings. I wonder if the church could use some of this logic in our context. Humbly approaching the issues of opportunities and outcomes for female ministry leaders and allowing the Spirit to be present in our conversations might lead us to find not just common ground, but solutions to Kingdom expansion through both men and women.
 Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York [etc.: Penguin Books, 2003), 341.
 Ibid, 350.
 Ibid, 353.
 Jordan Peterson Debate on the Gender Pay Gap, Campus Protests and Postmodernism, n.d., accessed February 16, 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aMcjxSThD54.
 Jordan Peterson, “The Gender Scandal: Part One (Scandinavia) and Part Two (Canada),” Jordan Peterson, last modified December 8, 2018, accessed February 27, 2020, https://www.jordanbpeterson.com/political-correctness/the-gender-scandal-part-one-scandinavia-and-part-two-canada/.
 Kadi Cole, Developing Female Leaders: Navigate the Minefields and Release the Potential of Women in Your Church (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2019).