Wednesday, March 9, 2011

How Many Women Would You Guess Are in the Scriptures?

In the last several days I've heard at least 5 people make the statement " There just aren't very many women in the scriptures."

Every time it has made me want to jump up and down and yell at the top of my lungs


I'm feeling an urgent need to set the record straight so that if any of you are ever sitting in a class, reading a blog, or having a conversation with someone who starts lamenting that there aren't any women in the scriptures you can... gently... enlighten them.

First, before I give you the numbers I want you to get a paper and pen (or if you have a really good memory you can do it in your head) and make a guess about how many women you think are mentioned by NAME in the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Then write down how many UNNAMED women you think are in each of these books.

Then write down how many women, named or unnamed, you think are in ALL the books of scripture.

Got it?

If you haven't guessed you should....

I'll give you another minute.

Okay, so here are the numbers that I got from my own study of the scriptures (so please realize that these numbers might be off just a little... but they are as accurate as I could get them with my limited resources)

Old Testament

Named Women: 133

Unnamed Women: 90

Groups of Unnamed Women: 145

Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 319

Total Women: 368

New Testament:

Named Women: 33

Unnamed Women: 28

Groups of Unnamed Women: 16

Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 60

Total Women: 71

Named Women: 3

Unnamed Women: 18

Groups of Unnamed Women: 66

Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 24

Total Women: 87
(Here is a complete list of them)

Named Women: 2

Unnamed Women: 4

Groups of Unnamed Women: 4

Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 20

Total Women: 10

Named Women: 5
(I didn't include women who were also mentioned in the Old Testament)

Unnamed Women: 2

Groups of Unnamed Women: 17

Parables or Prophecies Specifically Including Women: 5

Total Women: 24

Grand Total of all the Women in the Scriptures: 556

I am going to be writing this blog for a long, long time.

Please remember though that the "groups of unnamed women" can include anywhere from two or three women to 10,000. Also in addition to the 556 women mentioned specifically in the scriptures there are 428 parables or prophecies that specifically address or mention women.

Does any of this surprise you?

How did you do on your guessing? Did you guess more or less? I'd love to hear how you did.

I know that after I first completed the Women in the Scriptures Challenge I was astounded at all the women who were mentioned. Why had I NEVER heard of any of these women?!

Over the last few years I've began to see that the reason people don't think there are any women in the scriptures is because they aren't looking for them. They are either not reading their scriptures at all and are getting their information second hand through lessons and talks or they are reading their scriptures but aren't stopping to notice and ponder on the people they are reading about.

The other problem that people run into is that they try to compare the amount of women mentioned to the amount of men mentioned in the scriptures. "There may be 556 women in the scriptures but there are three times more men! That just isn't fair!" It is true that there are many more men in the scriptures but that doesn't lessen the beauty that we have LOTS of wonderful women role models as well. What we need to focus on, instead of comparing numbers, is how grateful we should be for the 556 women we DO have. In a day and age when most women didn't know how to read or write, and in some cases were excluded from spiritual life all together, it is amazing that we have as many of their stories as we do. We just need to start paying attention to them and talking about their stories. Just like in real life women are often "invisible" or "below the radar" simply because no one gives them specific attention or includes them in meaningful conversations.

It made me sad when recently I was watching a movie clip on 2 Kings 22 (in which the temple in Jerusalem is rebuilt and the scriptures re-discovered) that the story of Huldah was totally skipped over. It wouldn't have taken the film directors more than 5-10 seconds to include her, but they didn't. It made me wonder if they had even noticed her when they were reading the scriptures. It is my sincere hope that as more people-- men and women-- start opening their scriptures and looking for the women that flood their pages they will start



about these incredible women and sharing their stories.

So next time you hear someone complain "There just aren't very many women in the scriptures" I want you to tell them...

Open your scriptures...
because the women are there,
just waiting to be discovered.


  1. Well said. It had never ocurred to me to count them; I got 24 named OT, 7 named NT, 3 named BoM, 1 named D&C, and 1 named PoGP...not to great.... I've never thought there weren't very many with the exception of the Book of Mormon, but I hadn't realized how many (!) there were throughout all scripture--WOW!

  2. Oh, very well said. I knew there were going to be more than I thought, but I never knew there were that many. Thank you for pointing that out to me. I will have to pay more attention in our family reading. We are currently reading the Old Testament and I have found several that I never realized were in there.

  3. There are a lot of women. They provide examples of good and evil. I like the good ones but at times relate with the ones that sin.

  4. I love this blog! I just found it today--I feel it was an answer to prayer. I was just thinking yesterday that I wanted to learn more about the women in the scriptures.

    I also love lists, and yours are very informative; thanks for sharing them!

    One thing I noticed when I went back through the Book of Mormon is that there are five named women: two from the Bible stories: Eve and Mary (2 Nephi 2:18-19 and Alma 7:10 respectively)and three specific to the Book of Mormon: Sariah, Abish, and Isabel).

  5. I made a list of women's names in the scriptures while I was on my mission, and it was a really neat experience to see how many there are. I love how you're finding out who they are. I know that I don't think about their examples as often as I should.

  6. In my head I guessed 100-I'm happy to see it's 5 times that many. Incredible, thanks for sharing.

  7. Thanks Heather! I need to do the challenge it looks like :)

  8. Heather!
    Thanks for commenting on my blog and I would love to do a giveaway. Maybe like an 11x14 or 16x20 Mounted Print? Pick what you would like me to give away or you could give the winnner a choice also. My email is

    Thanks! I am adding your button to my blog right now :)

  9. I had a New Testament class with Sis. Camille Fronk Olson when I was at BYU... she was great at pointing out the women! In fact, my sister took a class from her all about women in the scriptures... I got a lot of her handouts! It's amazing that most people don't know about all the women!

  10. I'm so glad that I looked at the nominated blogs. Yours is a nice addition to my roll. I like to read thngs that can actually teach me someting while entertaining me.

  11. This is a wonderful resource! I am going to jot these numbers down and stick them in my scriptures in case it ever comes up in Sunday School etc. Thank you!

  12. Just stumbled upon your blog actually and this post stuck out to me because I once read through the scriptures specifically looking for women in the scriptures. I tried looking for the list I had made just the other day but couldn't find it, but at the time I was surprised to find how many women there were. My sister said that a lot of the women in the Old Testament are wicked but to me that's just a testament to me. The thing I noticed is that when the women were righteous, so were the people. But when there was a wicked woman with influence the people were wicked. We too have great influence- so if we choose to be righteous we can have a great effect on those around us.


    You may already be familiar with this site. It names all the biblical women it can, along with what their names mean, where in scripture they are found, and a short paragraph of what is known about them. It reminded me of you and if you don't already know it, I hope you find a helpful resource here.

    May HIS peace be with you. Thank you for this uplifting blog.

  14. I know you already have lots of comments, and I haven't read each of them, but I wanted to point out something that was pointed out to me many years ago--during a lesson at college.

    Just as we have a Heavenly Father, so do we have a Heavenly Mother. We do not hear about her in the scriptures or discuss Her very often. Not because She is second rate, but because She is Sacred. So too are women here on earth. In the Scriptures we heave of very few women--but those women are shining stars. And they teach us valuable lessons. Whether it is Mary and Martha and making better choices, or showing love and faithfulness with Ruth and Naomi or more startling--Courage with Esther.

    Thank you for this blog. I am in the middle of a different challenge to myself, but I will be revisiting your blog on my next run through.

  15. how many men are in the scriptures? i think when people complain about the lack of women in the scriptures they are really just sensitive to the vastly different amount of information about men and women. i get frustrated about the unnamedness of so many scriptural women. it seems the most commonly named among scriptural women are the harlots. it also seems that most of what we can learn about scriptural women has to be inferred. their stories tend to be only hints of a story. i am always longing for more

  16. I consider it another testament that women are cherished. There is no way for their names and stories to be distorted or violated. I consider myself a cherished daughter of God and am thankful for the protection of women by the loving hand and plan of our Savior. I am thankful that we were given the gifts that we have and that men were given the gift and mantle of the Priesthood. They were created to withstand persecution and I believe were chosen to take that mantle as yet another protection for us. We need not feel inferior, we were spared the persecution that comes with the responsibility of sharing our gifts and ministering. The courageous women are named to show us glimpses of our cherished role and to remind us just how loved we are... I am GRATEFUL to be a Daughter of God.

  17. I would love to read your thoughts on mother Eve?

  18. I was just directed to this blog. It is wonderful! My thoughts on women in the scripture is this: For just about every righteous man there has to be a wife (marriage is a necessary covenant). For every man mentioned in the scriptures (except Adam) there is also a mother. Therefore, just about every man mentioned in the scriptures would have have at least one wife and a mother. Both women playing a very important part in the man's life for good or bad.