The historic contributions of Muslim women to Islamic thought have been largely neglected as a field of study. Though in recent times Muslim women have emerged as religious scholars and leaders here and abroad, they still face challenges gaining positions of authority in their communities.
Dr. Ingrid Mattson is Director of Islamic Chaplaincy at the Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. She was elected the first female President of the Islamic Society of North America in 2006.
Dr. Mattson conducted research in a Muslim community in North Carolina. She asked community-members about the needed leadership roles in their mosque, and learned how they envisioned women would fit into those roles. Mattson explains why she thought it was important to ask women about their roles as community leaders.