Francis Chan, the NEO House Church Network, and Women in Leadership

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Getting Images: Yoido Full Gospel Church members praying

I recently listened to Francis Chan on the Phil Vischer Podcast, episode 227, sharing about his current ministry, the NEO House Church Network:

Popular author and preacher Francis Chan walked away from his megachurch to try something completely different – a series of tiny house churches in inner city San Francisco.  Why the change?  And what can we learn from his big experiment in going “small?”  This week on the podcast with Francis Chan – is the future of the church tiny??

At the end of the podcast, he mentioned that the NEO House Church Network is complementarian, reserving pastoral leadership to men.  It is a part of The Christian & Missionary Alliance (complementarian) and is also affiliated with The Gospel Coalition, which holds complementarianism as a key doctrine.

I love what Chan is doing, building a house church network that gives thousands of people the opportunity to minister in intimate and committed small communities. Mobilizing the priesthood of all believers should be the ultimate goal of a pastor.  And Chan is an amazing minister of the Gospel that I admire.  So I thought he would benefit from this quick story about a pastor that mobilized the women in his church to start house churches and they grew to be the largest church in the world.

“Don’t be afraid to empower women,” says the pastor of the world’s largest church.  Churches are wrong not to let women become spiritual leaders, David Yonggi Cho told church leaders at a “Discipling a Whole Nation” conference in Italy.  “If you ever train the women, and delegate your ministry to them, they will become tremendous messengers for the Lord.”

Most leaders at Cho’s Yoido Full Gospel Church in Seoul, Korea, are women.  The 700,000-member congregation is divided into 50,000 cell groups that meet in homes, and about 47,000 cell leaders are women, he said.  Of the church’s 600 associate pastors, 400 are women.  “In ministry they are equal with men,” he said.  “They are licensed.  They are ordained.  They become deaconesses and elders.”

Cho adopted the cell church principle in 1964 after he collapsed from exhaustion trying to minister to his then 3,000-member congregation.  His male leaders balked when he told them to divide the congregation into cells that meet in their homes.  “They said, ‘Fine, but we are not trained to do that and we are not paid to do that.  Why don’t you have a long vacation?’ This is the Korean way of saying ‘Why don’t you resign from the church?’ ”

When he asked the women leaders to do it, they said, “Teach us, pastor.  We will do anything for you,” he said.  The church grew from 3,000 to 18,000 in the next five years.  The cell churches started new cell churches and more lay leaders got involved in ministry, Cho said.  “It is the will of God to have a growing church.”

Source: https://godswordtowomen.org/empower.htm

Over time, using this cell principle, Cho’s church grew to over 1 million people.  Sadly, Cho has been convicted of embezzling from his church.  It is common for one person holding much power to be corrupted.  This should not diminish the impact of Cho’s female cell church pastors though!

Matthew 7:16 tells us, “You will know them by their fruit.”  The fruit of empowering women in ministry at Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea was unprecedented growth.  Church planters like Francis Chan should take note and include women in leadership.


Further reading:
The Junia Project has a great article on Why Women Make Great Church Planters.

The MissioAlliance has several must-read articles on Women in Church Planting.


Thank you for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors, where we fight for our rightful place beside our brothers in Christ’s reconciling and redeeming work on Earth. “Like” us on Facebook if you’d like to read links from around the web each day on gender issues in the Church and world.

Too Sweet, Or Too Shrill? The Double Bind for Women.

hidden-brain-imageA couple days ago, the Hidden Brain podcast had a fascinating episode on how sexism affects women in leadership.  You can listen to it HERE.

Here is the transcript from the episode, as provided on the NPR page (emphases mine):

Fewer than 1 in 5 members of Congress are women. At Fortune 500 companies, fewer than 1 in 20 CEOs are women. And if you look at all the presidents of the United States through Barack Obama, what are the odds of having 44 presidents who are all men?

If men and women had an equal shot at the White House, the odds of this happening just by chance are about 1 in 18 trillion.

What explains the dearth of women in top leadership positions? Is it bias, a lack of role models, the old boy’s club? Sure. But it goes even deeper. Research suggests American women are trapped in a paradox that is deeply embedded in our culture.

When Moseley Braun was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992, she achieved a powerful first. She was the first female African-American senator. And in her race for office, she assumed that racism would be a more daunting obstacle than gender bias. But she says, that wasn’t the case.

“I think in some regards the gender biases are more profound and more central to our culture than even the racial ones, and that to me was the surprise.”

One moment in particular still stays with her, more than 20 years later.

“There was a cartoon from one of the newspapers in the state that showed me as a puppet, with my campaign manager’s hand up my dress,” she says. “And the idea that I was a puppet of this guy that who was managing my campaign was shocking to me.”

But shortly after Braun won her race, she says she confronted a second trap. One day, she made an impassioned plea on the floor of the Senate. But she says, all her colleagues could hear, was a shrill black woman.

Her experience is one that researchers have described as a “double bind” — a set of assumptions that get at our implicit assumptions about men, women and leadership.

“The female gender role is based on the stereotype that women are nice and kind and compassionate,” says social psychologist Alice Eagly. By contrast, she says, “in a leadership role, one is expected to take charge and sometimes at least to demonstrate toughness, make tough decisions, be very assertive in bringing an organization forward, sometimes fire people for cause, etc.”

So what’s a woman to do? Be nice and kind and friendly, as our gender stereotypes about women require? Or be tough and decisive, as our stereotypes about leadership demand? To be one is to be seen as nice, but weak. To be the other is to be seen as competent, but unlikable.

Connie Morella served for 16 years as a Republican congresswoman from Maryland. Like Democrat Braun, she says at times she struggled to be heard.

“In a committee room, when I wasn’t chair of the committee, I would respond to a question or comment on an issue, [and] they’d say, ‘Thank you, Connie, that was great.’ And a little later Congressman Smith would say the same thing, and it was, ‘Oh, Congressman Smith … that was fabulous, let the record show …’ and I’d think, ‘Gee, I just said that.’ ”

How can we tell, with scientific certainty, whether women like Morella and Carol Braun were the victims of bias? When we look at a female leader who appears incompetent or shrill, how do we know if we are seeing reality, or just seeing the world through the lens of our own unconscious biases?

That’s where researchers like Madeline Heilman come in. She’s a psychology professor at New York University who focuses on gender stereotypes and bias, particularly when it comes to leadership. In one study, Heilman asked volunteers to evaluate a high-powered manager joining a company. Sometimes volunteers are told the manager is a man, other times they’re told it’s a woman.

“When the person was presented as a high powered person, who was very ambitious, we found that the person was seen as much more unlikable when it was a woman than when it was a man,” she says.

In these studies, the high-powered male and female manager are described in identical terms, down to the letter. The only difference is that one is said to be a man, and the other is said to be a woman.

Heilman says that the double bind arises because our minds are trying to align our stereotypes about men and women, with our stereotypes about leadership.

“We have conceptions of these jobs and these positions and what is required to do them well, and there’s a lack of fit between how we see women and what these positions require,” she says.

The biases Heilman describes aren’t just held by men. They’re held by both sexes, which explains why many female leaders encounter derision and suspicion from men and women.

“We have very strong feelings about how men and women are, and that leads to this dislike when they go over the line, when they tread where they are not supposed to be.”

The good news, says psychologist Eagly, is that our culture’s views are always changing. And that includes our views on women, men and the meaning of leadership — whether in elected office or the workplace.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Carol Moseley Braun was the first African-American U.S. senator. She was in fact the first female African-American senator. An initial version of the podcast episode with the same error has been corrected.

The Hidden Brain Podcast is hosted by Shankar Vedantam and produced Maggie Penman, Jennifer Schmidt, and Renee Klahr. Our supervising producer is Tara Boyle. You can also follow us on Twitter @hiddenbrain, and listen for Hidden Brain stories each week on your local public radio station.


Follow The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors on Facebook for daily links regarding gender equality in the Church and culture at large.  Thanks for stopping by and come again!

From “Nobody” to “Somebody” – How one “Blessed Alliance” has changed the lives of nearly 200 children in Uganda

As a devoted Egalitarian, it warms my heart to see couples serving the Lord together as a united and equal team, a “blessed alliance,” and I had that great pleasure recently.

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A couple weeks ago, my husband Logan and I hosted an open house for Dutch missionaries Sir Piet and Lady Pita Buitendijk, who have lived in Uganda for over 20 years adopting and caring for abandoned, orphaned and abused babies.  They now have 179 children in the largest and most beautiful family I have ever seen.  Through Noah’s Ark Children’s Ministry Uganda, they also serve the local villages with medical care, food and schooling.  The NACMU compound includes beautiful homes, farms, loaded fish ponds, an elementary and high school, a technical school, a church, a clinic, and more.  What they are doing is truly amazing.  Piet and Pita share their own suite with their infants who come to NACMU in the most extreme states of vulnerability, malnourished and barely hanging on.

They were relaying the story of being knighted earlier this year by the King of the Netherlands, and noted that it is unusual for a married couple to be knighted together.
“It is because we are equals,” Pita declared.  Amen!!

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My father is the U.S. Representative for Noah’s Ark Children’s Ministry Uganda.  Through my dad’s ministry, Safe Landing Ministries, you can sign up to sponsor a local child’s education.  Piet and Pita use every resource available to them to raise up the children around them and offer them a future of safety and happiness.  Piet framed the economic situation in Uganda “positively,” by saying 14% of the country is employed.  Piet is the best kind of visionary, always thinking of ways to provide opportunities and skills to his children, to bring dignity and joy to their lives.

“From Nobody to Somebody” – Noah’s Ark believes that with genuine love, care and education children who have been deemed a “nobody” by society can be restored into a “somebody”.

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For more information on this wonderful ministry and the Blessed Alliance of Piet and Pita behind it all, you can visit:

Noah’s Ark website
Safe Landing Ministries to sign up to sponsor a child
The NACMU FB page
The NACMU YouTube channel


Thank you for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors, where we seek to advance gender equality in the Church for the benefit of all.  Please “Like” us on Facebook!

Your Guide to Voting as a Beautiful Kingdom Warrior

If I had to sum up Your Guide to Voting as a Beautiful Kingdom Warrior, I would give you three points to bear in mind:

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This is what the Lord requires of us.  

Yeah, this post is more about how to be a faithful Christ-follower during the Presidential election and less about how to vote.  And I am preaching this post to myself, friends.

Walk Humbly – adj. “having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.”  As much as any of us may read up on this election and the candidates’ platforms, we cannot have a perfect grasp on the issues and we cannot predict what will happen in the coming presidential term.  We are all handicapped by biases, ignorance, and limited perspectives-not only our own, but also those of our sources and community of influence.  Humbly listen to others, considering them better than yourself (Philippians 2:3).

Love Mercy – n. “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.”  Be merciful especially to those who will be casting their ballot differently than you.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Do not call names.  Do not slander or malign others.  Be slow to anger.  Try to understand their perspective and be charitable, loving and kind.  Hate any speech that is unmerciful.

Act Justly – n. “based on or behaving according to what is morally right and fair.”  Vote your conscience.  There is much that is broken in our country that needs healing, redemption, and justice.  Consider what is best for the “least of these,” the most marginalized and voiceless members of our society – certainly that includes unborn babies as well as those living in poverty, those caught in the pipeline to prison, those without adequate healthcare, unequal pay, refugees seeking asylum from war, and the list goes on.  There is abounding injustice to dismantle.

I would also add, Do not be afraid.  We have been told over and over that there is much to be afraid of and that the outcome of this election could trigger the End Times.  Enough pandering to fear-mongering!!  Place your trust in Jesus alone and do your best to faithfully follow Him, leaving the rest up to Him.

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This election season has been fraught with controversy and emotion.  It is critical to remember that as Christians, our battle is not with flesh and blood but with principalities and powers (Ephesian 6:12).  We must pray for discernment while maintaining our allegiance to one King only, our Lord Jesus Christ, and His coming Kingdom.  We cannot place our hope in a political candidate or party to save us.  God is making all things new, He is redeeming His creation and has invited us into this redemptive work.  We are to be His ambassadors of peace.  And that starts with loving our neighbors.

As an advocate for gender equality here at The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors, I am going to post links in the footnotes to relevant articles and Tweets from recent days.  I do not want to diminish my point that as Christians, though, we are called to be the hands and feet of God’s love.  Let’s be respectful and kind to others when we are talking politics.

Regardless of our political views, we must remember to walk humbly,
love mercy and act justly.  


Here are some articles I’ve posted to our TBKW FB page:
Petition: A Declaration of American Evangelicals Concerning Donald Trump

Evangelicals Are Supporting a Sexual Predator.  It’s Not the First Time

I Just Had to Explain Trump’s Pussy Comments to My Sons

Many men talk like Donald Trump in private.  And only other men can stop them.

Excellent Tweets responding to Trump’s “locker room banter” about assaulting women:

The Liturgists Podcast: Ep. 40 “Woman”

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The Liturgists made an outstanding podcast episode about sexism in the context of church and culture.  It is a must listen!  Check it out HERE.

Featuring Austin Channing Brown, Caroline Lee, Christine Chester, Emily Capshaw, Lisa Gungor, and Rev. Sarah Heath.

And while we’re listening to Gungor and friends, you will also be blown away by this new track from their album One Wild Life: Body.  “Tree” is about body image and it’s powerfully good!

“Did the tree of life divorce the body?  Seek to save the soul but hate the bark?  Long for freedom from it’s branches?  Despise the roots that plumb the dark?  Are trees ashamed of needing sunlight?  Feeling guilt for being what they are?”

Book Review: The Road Back to You

Today is launch day for a very exciting book, a collaboration of author Ian Cron and Enneagram expert Suzanne Stabile.  “The Road Back to You: An Enneagram Journey to Self-Discovery” explains this ancient personality typing system and how using the Enneagram can help you to understand yourself and others better, leading to greater compassion and empathy, and deeper, healthier relationships.  In addition, understanding yourself better is key to growing in relationship with God.

A big part of my life is listening to podcasts, as I work alone and enjoy having “adult conversations” to keep me company.  I started listening to Luke Norsworthy’s podcast last year.  He interviews fascinating Christian authors, pastors, activists and theologians.  In one of his conversations with Richard Rohr, they chatted about the Enneagram and later that night, I Googled “Enneagram” and read through The Enneagram Institute’s site.  Then this summer, he did a podcast with Suzanne Stabile and Ian Cron about their upcoming book and podcast.  I have since been listening each week as they interview guests about their Enneagram number.  I jumped at the opportunity to read an advance copy of their book and share this review with you.

In the first chapter, Ian Cron describes his introduction to the Enneagram in seminary when he came across a Richard Rohr book, and his professor’s adamant rejection of its credibility.  Later on, after burning out in pastoral ministry and finding a spiritual director, Brother Dave, to help put the pieces of his life back together, they discussed using the Enneagram together.

“It’s too bad your professor discouraged you from learning the Enneagram,” Br. Dave told me. “It’s full of wisdom for people who want to get out of their own way and become who they were created to be.” “What does ‘getting out of your own way’ entail?” I asked, knowing how many times I’d wanted to do just that in my life but didn’t know how. “It has to do with self-knowledge. Most folks assume they understand who they are when they don’t,” Br. Dave explained. “They don’t question the lens through which they see the world—where it came from, how it’s shaped their lives, or even if the vision of reality it gives them is distorted or true. Even more troubling, most people aren’t aware of how things that helped them survive as kids are now holding them back as adults. They’re asleep.”

“What we don’t know about ourselves can and will hurt us, not to mention others,” he said, pointing his finger at me and then at himself. “As long as we stay in the dark about how we see the world and the wounds and beliefs that have shaped who we are, we’re prisoners of our history. We’ll continue going through life on autopilot doing things that hurt and confuse ourselves and everyone around us. Eventually we become so accustomed to making the same mistakes over and over in our lives that they lull us to sleep. We need to wake up.”

“Working with the Enneagram helps people develop the kind of self-knowledge they need to understand who they are and why they see and relate to the world the way they do,” Br. Dave continued. “When that happens you can start to get out of your own way and become more of the person God created you to be.”

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I wrote a post in March of 2015 about my journey to finding healing from codependcy.  I experienced church and family trauma and I was in a similar broken place that Ian Cron describes.  I didn’t have a spiritual director like Br. Dave to guide me, but God did provide spiritual guides both in the flesh and in books and on the interwebs that helped me find my footing again.  I share that story and links that were helpful in the post.  If I had read “The Road Back to You” at that time, I would have included this resource.  I have personally experienced the change in my relationship with God as I understand myself and others better.  I feel unconditional love and acceptance from God.  In reading my old post, I see how my personality has always been an Enneagram 9, but I was unhealthy and now I am more self-aware.  I have a deeper understanding of my healing.

I believe that churches would be healthy and productive and safe if only there was more self-awareness in parishioners.  Ian and Suzanne always repeat on their podcasts that their passion for sharing the Enneagram is in seeing compassion grow. In reading the chapters explaining the nine types, I was blown away as I recognized myself, my husband, my children, my relatives and friends.  I see clearly where my work needs to be done to be a healthier, safer person.  I see where the behavior of others stems from, which gives me a greater ability to be gracious and forgiving and also to communicate with them in a meaningful way.

I don’t want to give away too much about this book.  I just want to urge you to buy a copy or request that your church or library purchase a copy.  Pass along “The Road Back to You” website to your pastor and friends.  Listen to Ian and Suzanne’s podcast on your commute or while you work.  This is an important resource for spiritual development and will bear much good fruit in your life if you use it as a spiritual discipline.

Here are the links one more time:

To purchase a copy: https://smile.amazon.com/Road-Back-You-Enneagram-Self-Discovery/ (using Smile.Amazon.com gives you an opportunity to give back to a cause that is important to you.  If you’d like, you can choose “North Harbor Community Church” – my church in Maine).

The Road Back to You website: http://theroadbacktoyou.com/


Thank you for visiting The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  We are all about having redemptive dialogue about gender equality in the Church and world.  Please “Like” our Facebook page, where we post articles from around the web related to this mission.

Best of Summer Link-Up

We have a lot of catching up to do, Beautiful Kingdom Warriors!  Once again, it has been a busy summer here in Vacationland.  Thank you for being patient and sticking with Becky and me even when our lives are overflowing with non-blog-related activity.  Every day, we post great links on our Facebook page, and I have just scrolled through to share my favorites here from July and August.  But first, feast your eyes on the scenery around my home in Maine.  Then you’ll understand why it’s such a popular destination!

~  On Biblical interpretation  ~
6 reasons 1 Timothy 2:12 is not as clear as it seems
“A broad principle we might derive from 1 Timothy 2:12 is “bad or bossy teaching is not permitted.”

Indispensible: Women Who Plant Churches “It’s hard to imagine a stronger affirmation of women as indispensable church planters than Paul gives the women of Philippi. Church planting efforts multiplied because he broke with tradition to partner with his sisters in Christ.  The mission Jesus entrusted to his church is demanding, so demanding that it requires a Blessed Alliance of men and women working together. In this challenging post-Christian world, we are learning afresh of God’s desire for the partnered ministry of women and men in seeing the gospel embodied and advanced through the planting of new churches. We must reclaim the biblical and apostolic conviction of the indispensability of women in church planting!

~  On how patriarchy hurts men and women  ~
How the Christian ‘masculinity’ movement is ruining men
“The Christian Bible paints for us a view of manhood that is much more complex than these simple stereotypes allow. For every biblical reference to warriors like Samson or Saul, we read of characters like young David, a harpist, who through no power of his own defeated a giant. We meet Simeon, known for patiently waiting decades to see God’s promise revealed. Jesus himself notably refused to fight back, even giving up his life and physical body in a history-making display of spiritual strength.  A closer reading suggests that the Bible’s heroes aren’t meant to be models of outward toughness but exemplars of inner fortitude. So why have so many Christians accepted secular standards of masculinity as the basis for biblical manhood?”

No, Focus on the Family, I do not want to civilize a barbarian
“I think our problem is a society that encourages men to be violent, not that women should be whatever-definition-Glenn-T.-Stanton-has-for-feminine so they can motivate men out of being a malignant cancer. If appreciating a woman’s opinion is life-changing, let men and boys, single and married, respect women and their opinions in every sphere of society – including in politics, in church, in the home, at work and in social settings.”

Why Donald Trump is Good for Evangelicals
“Kinder-gentler versions of manhood and calls for men to ‘man-up!’ and take charge that thunder from evangelical pulpits and appear in books addressing men merely situate evangelicals on the cultural manhood continuum. Such definitions are woefully inadequate and run the risk that men, like Trump, will take things too far. Worse still, they fail to offer men and boys the indestructible identity, dignity, meaning, and purpose that their Creator intended when he bestowed the imago dei on all his sons and daughters.”

Its Not OK, and We’re Not Alright
“Just because not everyone experiences the fallout of an oppressive system in the same way does not mean that the oppressive system does not exist. When someone reduces all the harm, damage, and trauma of purity culture down to something “weird” or calls our responses “melodramatic,” they are erasing us and dismissing our legitimate grievances. This happens because they have had the privilege of living in an oppressive system and not being significantly harmed by it.”

~  On abuse and protecting your children  ~
The Courage Conference – Lynchburg, VA   October 28-29
“Did you know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will experience abuse in their lifetime, including those in church? And, for the last five years, child sexual abuse has been the number one reason Churches or Religious Organizations have ended up in court.  The Church is often the first place victims of abuse go to seek help and healing. If we are not educated and equipped to properly serve these hurting individuals, we can unintentionally neglect or even re-victimize them. This is why we created The Courage Conference. 

Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife –  A Review “Reading this book also requires a willingness to reconsider one’s view of marriage. This is no simple task because her story raises questions regarding deeply held beliefs about marriage roles, male headship, and female submission that many evangelical Christians consider sacred and nonnegotiable. Yet the “silent epidemic” of domestic abuse that concerns Tucker is so dangerous and life-threatening within Christian circles, and so easily concealed, we cannot afford to brush her off and refuse to listen.”

5 Phrases That Can Help Protect Your Child From Sexual Abuse
“That’s your vulva.”
“Stop.”
“No secrets.”
“Did you feel safe?”
“High five, wave, or hug?”

5 everyday ways to teach your kids about consent.
1. Ask for their consent often.
2. Teach them that their “no” matters.
3. Model to your child that “yes” can become “no” at any time.
4. Seek to understand.
5. Keep “regard” at the forefront of your mind.

~  On the complementarian vs. egalitarian debate  ~
Someone mansplain complementarianism to me (ormen, what is wrong with us?)
“Because ironically, the greatest argument against this elevated religious view of men—is men. We’ve created a historical body of work reprehensible enough to make Complementarianism laughable. If the abhorrent behavior of men is trying to make an argument for moral superiority, we ain’t looking’ that good, fellas. I think we need to make room at the table and the pulpit and the office, and realize that it’s been a long time coming and it’s a really good thing.” 

5 False Assumptions about Egalitarians
1. Egalitarians don’t respect Scripture.
2. Egalitarians are wishful thinkers when it comes to the Bible.
3. Egalitarians don’t understand complementarianism.
4. Egalitarians deny that men and women are different.
5. Egalitarians undermine the church.

History of Complementarianism – Part 1 and Part 2
TWW Commenters Weigh In On Complementarianism
A FUN read full of gems like this John Piper spin-off:

“If a complementarian man finds himself being taught by, or under the authority of a woman, I think he should endure it for a season.”

Mary Kassian Compares Women Who Teach Men in Church to Fornicators
“Kassian’s boundaries are difficult to follow since it appears that she finds loopholes for just about anything so long as she is doing it.”

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~  On sexism  ~
Are U.S. Millenial Men Just as Sexist as Their Dads?
“Taken together, this body of research should dispel any notion that Millennial men ‘see women as equals.'”

9 Non-Threatening Leadership Strategies for Women
Let’s finish this link-up with a bit of humor.  It’s funny because it’s true.🙂