Burge, Ryan P. and Miles D. Williams
Burge, Ryan P. and Miles D. Williams. 2019. "Gender in the Pulpit: The Differences in Speaking Style for Men and Women." Journal of Communication and Religion. 42(1).
Publication year: 2019

One of the most important shifts occurring in the religious landscape is a significant increase in the number of churches that are ordaining and calling women to the ministry. While a tremendous amount of work in communication has studied the differences in speech by male and female speakers, that analysis has not turned to the level of the sermon. Using nearly 900 sermon transcripts collected from pastors of both genders, this paper uses a number of text analysis techniques including natural language processing and sentiment analysis to understand the differences in sermon delivery between the genders. Our findings note that while sermons delivered by males are significantly longer, female speakers are more likely to use first person pronouns and tentative speech than their male counterparts. Overall, our sentiment analysis finds that women are more likely to use positive words; however, sentiment varies dramatically across the entire arc of the sermon.