From a report on the FAIR conference: LDS apologists tackle same-sex attraction, women's issues, Peggy Fletcher Stack, Salt Lake Tribune
Neylan McBaine described changes the LDS Church could make to enhance the participation of its female members.
"There is a tremendous amount of pain among our women regarding how they can or cannot contribute to the governance of our ecclesiastical organization," said McBaine, founder of the online Mormon Women Project and associate creative director for LDS Church-owned Bonneville Communications, which produces the "I'm a Mormon" campaign. "The pain is real."
McBaine cited a 2011 survey of 3,000 Mormons who had left the church, which reported that 47 percent cited women's issues as a "significant" reason for their loss of faith. Among women respondents, that percentage climbed to 63 percent, and 70 percent for single Mormon women.
"Denying this pain or belittling it," she said, "is an all too common occurrence among both our men and our women."
McBaine suggested shifting the model from a hierarchical to a cooperative one, where men and women work together but not in identical roles. She offered several suggestions for increasing women's stature and visibility: consistently using the title "president" when referring to women leaders; having local women leaders routinely sit on the stand so congregants know them; inviting female leaders to speak monthly as men on the stake high council do; quoting women's speeches as often as men's; allowing women to be the last speaker in Mormon services; and inviting girls to participate in the Pinewood Derby.
McBaine's great-great-grandmother once was described as a "prophetess and revelator," McBaine said. "Can you imagine using such language of empowerment to describe the female leaders in your wards?"