I'm not just referring to Christian small groups/Bible studies/homegroups whatever you want to call them. It can be any group such as a sporting team, parenting group, book club, small workplace.....you name it.
I'm torn to which I prefer as I have been a part of both and can see the benefits and drawbacks of each. Here are my lists of pros and cons:
- Makes it easier to share things of a personal nature. I find it easier to open up with a group of women than in a mixed group.
- Can do girly things without annoying the blokes.
- It can get bitchy and cliquey (I'm talking in regards to all female groups here). My experiences have been positive when I've been in a group of random women of all ages and backgrounds but when there are a lot of similarities between group members, women tend to be a bit too exclusive. I've had my issues being in groups of women mostly over 30 or who are all mums. I didn't have a problem with this until they kept pointing out I was the only chick under 30 and acting like I was too young and stupid to hang around them. Unfortunately women NEVER grow out of bitchiness!
- Too much gossip because there weren't any blokes to put a stop to it.
- I've learnt a lot by hearing men's outlook on life which is often very different to the female perspective.
- The group tends to stay on track more when there are men present and a male leader and not get sidetracked by waffling.
- In regards to Bible study groups, I've been frustrated when it seemed that the men in the group wanted to keep the group's interaction at surface level chit-chat and made it virtually impossible to get to know the other people in the group well. At times, it felt like we were studying an academic textbook rather than God's Word which is living and active and speaks to us in all areas of our lives. Therefore, prayer time was very general and we only ever prayed about stuff like the weather or Auntie Mary's broken leg but avoided praying about ourselves or how the passage applies to us as individuals as well as a group. Sometimes groups I have been in have avoided this by splitting into gender-specific prayer groups but I don't really see the point of that. If you're going to do that, then you might as well have single gender groups fullstop. I'm not saying people should be super deep and meaningful or share things that are inappropriate but I have felt jealous of mixed groups who are really involved in each other's lives and care for each other deeply.
That's me. What are your experiences? Do you prefer mixed or single gender groups?