In her 2020 address to the worldwide membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Primary general president Joy Jones declared, “President Russell M. Nelson taught, ‘It would be impossible to measure the influence that . . . women have, not only on families but also on the Lord's Church, as wives, mothers, and grandmothers; as sisters and aunts; as teachers and leaders; and especially as exemplars and devout defenders of the faith.’”1Though it certainly may be impossible to measure women's influence on families, it is to some extent possible to measure the influence that leaders like Jones and Nelson believe women have on the Church. Jones's speech, delivered at the Church's semiannual general conference, exemplifies a long tradition of Latter-day Saint rhetoric, particularly in her use of quotation. In her eleven minutes at the pulpit, Jones quoted current Church president Russell Nelson four times, previous Church presidents three times, scripture six times, and a previous apostle once. Additionally, in the middle of her speech, a video played of Nelson speaking to a group of children. In all, though almost one third of Jones's address about women's roles was focused on other people's voices, women were not among her selected sources.2This article argues such quotation choices reflect Church leaders’ views on authority. When the most powerful leaders in the Church use their limited time in the spotlight to highlight someone else's words, they send a signal about how that source should be perceived. The quotation patterns in fifty years of general conference addresses reveal that, despite increasingly vocal commitments from Church leaders to the equal though separate status of women and men, those leaders continue to treat female voices as less authoritative than male ones.3 Church leaders quote men more than sixteen times for every one time they quote a woman. Even taking into account the expected effects of the Church's overwhelmingly male scripture and all-male priesthood hierarchy, women are quoted less, cited less, and acknowledged less than one might expect from an organization whose president recently told women, “We need your voice teaching the doctrine of Christ.”4 This article contends that their treatment of these voices is indicative of women's status in the Church more broadly.General conference plays an important role in the Church and in its members’ lives. It is frequently the site of development and affirmation of Church doctrine, policy, and culture. At conference, leaders deliver what are understood to be divinely inspired messages on how members should act and think about their relationship to God. Members are frequently instructed in Sunday meetings in the weeks preceding conference to pray to receive answers to personal questions during conference, with the idea that God will speak to them individually through their highest leaders. Afterwards, the sermons are published in Church magazines and used as the lesson material in local meetings for the next six months, ensuring that what is said in general conference makes its way through the entire Church.As such, studying conference talks is critical to understanding Latter-day Saint theological and practical beliefs. It is also significant when considering women's place in the Church. While Mormon feminists have worked tirelessly to amplify women's voices, the voices that define the Church and its interests to members continue to be the primarily male speakers in general conference. The status and experiences of women in the Church cannot be fully understood without examining the Church's most powerful men and their messages as delivered in its most influential forum.In particular, such a study requires paying attention not just to the content of general conference talks, but to how that content is packaged. As sociologists Gary and Gordon Shepherd note in their groundbreaking studies of general conference, meaning is found not just in the content and themes of any given talk but in the “rhetorical modes in which themes are expressed.”5 Women's place in the Church can be understood not just through what leaders say to and about women—and they say a lot!—but in how they frame and support what they have to say.My research explores these questions by analyzing quotation practices in general conference between 1971 and 2020. I read every April6 session talk given by a member of the First Presidency or Quorum of the Twelve Apostles during those decades. I also read every talk by a female leader given in the April general session during that time period (thus, between 1984 and 2020).7 In order to understand how quotation dynamics vary by leadership position, gender, and audience in the modern Church, I also read every talk given by any leader in any session between April 2016 and April 2020. For each address, I documented every quotation,8 including what was cited, the number of words in each quotation, and the way the speaker verbally introduced each quotation. This totaled more than 12,700 quotations over 1,100 talks.The rhetorical practices of general conference, like its format and structure, have changed over time. Nineteenth and early twentieth-century leaders would extemporize for hours; modern translation and global broadcasting have necessitated timed, prewritten addresses.9 This is the backdrop to my choice to focus on the period between 1971 and 2020. Many substantial technological changes happened in the 1960s: conference was first translated simultaneously in 1962,10 first broadcast to Europe in 1965,11 and first televised in color in 1967.12 Though speakers were still adjusting to these changes in the 1970s, the era of spontaneity was over, and leaders were aware of themselves as speaking to a much larger audience than those sitting before them. Additionally, transcripts and video recordings of general conference are available for that entire period on the Church's website,13 providing definitive sources for those addresses.14 The quotations used in these carefully crafted speeches for a global audience provide a window into Church leaders’ views on gender and authority.Quotation is a common rhetorical practice that serves many different functions: spicing up a narrative, providing exact wording, or lending legitimacy to one's own argument. As every student of high school English literature intuitively knows, this last function is particularly important. Anthropologist Ruth Finnegan writes that quotation “enables a writer to stand in alliance with revered words and voices from the past and . . . endow oneself with something of their authority.”15 Speakers in general conference constantly use quotation in precisely this way, positioning their ideas as (for example) the continuation of teachings from other Church leaders. In general conference, the rhetorical force of a quotation relies on the source of a quotation just as much, if not more, as the content of that quotation.Scholars have sometimes used quotation in general conference as evidence for which sources general authorities were personally reading.16 Conference quotation patterns cannot be understood only in these terms, however. This is the case first because of quotation's rhetorical function. With limited time and such a significant audience, conference speakers must be understood as carefully selecting their quotations for both content and source. Indeed, a look at the footnotes reveals that speakers in general conference frequently use sources specifically designed to achieve that purpose. Many draw upon references like Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, which collects acknowledged sources of wisdom like historical leaders or the anonymous proverb.17 This is one indication that conference speakers look for quotations to include in their talks as quotations, rather than, say, encountering those writers during research on some topic.18 The sources that appear in general conference are deliberately chosen with the spiritual and institutional goals of the Church's highest leaders in mind.The second reason to understand speakers’ quotations as deliberately selected for their audience is that the changes in quotation in general conference over time (see table 1 below) cannot be explained merely by changes in individuals’ reading habits. Because apostles and prophets occupy those roles until their deaths, the composition of leaders speaking in conference changes slowly.19 Even as the membership of this group remains largely the same, their quotation patterns change significantly.20 Not only do the same leaders collectively quote different sources over time, but they also frame their quotations of those sources differently for their audience. Though whom leaders quote is indeed an indication of whom they privately take to be authoritative or interesting, it is also a public decision.Consider the fifteen most frequent sources of quotation from the Quorum of the Twelve and First Presidency in the 1970s and how that list changed in the 2010s (table 1). Both are clearly a reflection of the sources that matter most to the Church and its members: scriptures and prophets handily top each list. But the changes in these sources’ popularity is striking. Quotation of current prophets and apostles, for example, has increased dramatically,21 while presidents of the United States have gone from the top ten to zero. These changes in sources can be understood at least in part as a reflection of a change in audience. While general conference's availability in the 1970s was limited beyond the United States,22 it is now internationally broadcast to communities without much besides their Church membership in common. Church leaders and their quotation practices are responsive to their audience.While there is much to explore in these trends beyond their application to gender, this article focuses on quotation as a reflection of authority in order to explore women's status in the Church. Quotation is a rhetorical practice in which speakers reveal beliefs about their audience. When choosing to quote from certain sources, speakers indicate two things: first, that they believe their audience will accept that source as authoritative, and second, that they themselves support that source's authority.Broadly, a source is more authoritative to an audience the more that members of that audience would believe a claim or obey an instruction (or seriously consider doing so) because it came from that source, regardless of their prior views about the content of the claim or instruction. Sources can be authoritative in many different ways. Conference speakers must navigate secular and ecclesiastical authority as well as many varieties of spiritual authority.23 What broad-scale conference quotation patterns demonstrate is how weighty these different sources of authority are in their context.Rhetorically effective quotation requires choosing sources with one's audience in mind.24 The sources that general conference speakers choose, then, reveal features of the Latter-day Saint community, at least as those leaders understand it. A previous United States president might be an authoritative source to Americans, but citing one would not help one's persuasiveness overseas. How often various choices are made reflects the expected effectiveness of those appeals for members. This indicates that the sources cited more are, on the whole,25 considered more authoritative in the Latter-day Saint context, while the sources cited less are less so. For this reason, the term “authority” functions broadly in this article to refer to the weight of a certain source's status, not the reason for that weight.Effective quotation must also be balanced by the speaker's own views about the source. If someone crafting a speech knew that her audience put great trust in, say, mainstream media sources, but she herself did not think that trust was merited, she would not quote that source to bolster her argument even if it would be persuasive. Conference quotation patterns thus reveal both leaders’ beliefs and their hopes about their community. The sources cited most frequently are not only the sources audiences trust but also the sources leaders want their audience to trust. In the mouths of the Church's most powerful leaders, such support through quotation can even increase a source's authority.Because leaders’ use of sources reflects their beliefs about their audience, studying how Church leaders quote women sheds light on how those leaders perceive women's authority in the Latter-day Saint community. Because speakers affirm authority through quotation, whether and how speakers quote women in general conference is indicative of those leaders’ commitment to women's authority and equality. In this way, leaders’ treatment of women in their general conference addresses provides a meaningful window into the status of women in the Church more generally.Examining what conference quotation says about women in the Church is significant for two reasons. First, it is relevant for broader feminist projects involving concepts like equal representation of and respect for women. Second, it reflects on the Church's realization of its own values.This article takes feminist commitments on board, arguing that women's underrepresentation in general conference is a problem to be fixed. Because Church leaders support a different model of womanhood than many feminist and secular sources propose, however, some might worry that it is misguided to evaluate the Church's discursive practices by such standards. But the ways leaders engage with female voices in general conference can also be examined in light of their own stated commitments. Church leaders throughout the years have preached that women and men are equal, though separate. Church president Spencer Kimball told men in 1979, “The women of this Church have work to do which, though different, is equally as important as the work that we do. Their work is, in fact, the same basic work that we are asked to do—even though our roles and assignments differ . . . Our sisters do not wish to be indulged or to be treated condescendingly; they desire to be respected and revered as our sisters and our equals.”26 Other speakers throughout the years have mirrored that language and those sentiments, down to Relief Society president Jean Bingham's 2020 declaration of “the eternal truth that men's and women's innate differences are God given and equally valued.”27Quotation as a rhetorical device sends messages, and those messages can reinforce or undermine the actual content of the talks in which they appear. This article will argue that, even if it is not their intention, leaders’ quotations of women in general conference marginalize women in the Latter-day Saint community rather than portray them as worthy of respect and value. Insofar as this study shows that conference quotation practices fail to live up to an equal standard with respect to gender—and especially insofar as inequality is not the aim of Church leaders—it provides both an internal and external critique of those practices. If the Church is to live up to its creed, leaders must reexamine which voices they choose to emphasize and how they do so.It is crucial to note that claims about women's and men's equal value do not translate easily into claims about equal authority, especially in an ecclesiastical setting. Women's ecclesiastical authority in the Church is, of course, limited because they are not ordained to priesthood office. While leaders have recently asserted that women have both “priesthood power” and “priesthood authority,”28 this distinction is contentious, and women's authority is instead most often spoken about (as in the Nelson quotation that began this article) in terms of “righteous influence.”29 The source of this influence is attributed to women's caring nature30 and “unique moral compass.”31 Discussions of these kind emphasize women's spiritual rather than ecclesiastical authority.Conference quotation, however, is not limited to sources with ecclesiastical authority. If quotation were just about appealing to authorities in some sense higher than one's self, one might expect prophets to quote mostly other prophets and scripture, but prophets also quote current and past apostles, as well as secular poets and historical figures.32 Poet William Wordsworth, philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, and New York Times columnist David Brooks have all been quoted multiple times by prophets and apostles.33 Additionally, because conference addresses focus on how members should live their lives and understand their relationship with God, leaders might have reason to reference other acknowledged sources of spiritual authority, like women. As Bruce McConkie wrote in 1979, “Where spiritual things are concerned, as pertaining to all of the gifts of the Spirit, with reference to the receipt of revelation, the gaining of testimonies, and the seeing of visions, in all matters that pertain to godliness and holiness and which are brought to pass as a result of personal righteousness—in all these things men and women stand in a position of absolute equality before the Lord.”34These types of assertions should lead to some degree of gender balance in quotations whose sources are not selected for their ecclesiastical authority. Indeed, given frequent conference claims about women's superior moral sensitivity, one might expect leaders who profess such views to draw on women more frequently than men in some contexts. In a sermon about how to understand one's relationship with God and live a moral life, the sources of insight McConkie listed ought to be just as open to women as to men, regardless of their ecclesiastical status. Despite this, a righteous woman's influence is rarely the kind of authority conference speakers are interested in drawing upon.When looking at gender in general conference, the big picture numbers are striking. In April general sessions between 1971 and 2020, members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (hereafter referred to inclusively as “apostles”) quoted specifically male sources35 3,264 times. This does not include the male-gendered deities, Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father, who were quoted 1,968 times.36 In that same period, female sources were quoted 197 times.This imbalance is huge, but not surprising—the perhaps natural consequences of an all-male priesthood and hierarchical structure that places over one hundred men at a time in positions more powerful than the most powerful female leader. Latter-day Saint scripture is also almost entirely male: the Book of Mormon has almost 250 named individuals, but only six of those are female, and only two women actually speak in the text. Given the Church's broader position in a patriarchal society, it is also not surprising that the poets, historical figures, and non-Latter-day Saint leaders they quote would also be overwhelmingly male.Though it may not be surprising, the lack of female representation is troubling, especially once the trends are broken down further (table 2). Altogether, female voices comprise 2.1 percent of general conference quotations in this sample. Looking only at 2011–2020, this number increases slightly: to 2.7 percent. By the same measure, explicitly male voices other than Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ account for 35.5 percent of conference quotations, going down to 31.7 percent between 2011 and 2020. This decrease is entirely due to leaders verbally attributing fewer quotes from scripture to male voices37—if scriptures are excluded, quotation of men goes up from 14.8 percent over fifty years to 18.1 percent of all quotations in the final decade of my sample. Examining only quotations from specific people, removing quotes from scripture38 and not clearly gendered sources,39 reveals that more than nine out of ten of the individuals quoted in general conference are men.40Women's absence becomes even more visible in quotations from sources with high-level Latter-day Saint ecclesiastical authority.41 Of those, female leaders of the Church make up 1.9 percent of quotations. Ninety-eight percent of the leaders that apostles quote in general conference are men. This amounts to a mere twenty-one citations of female Church leaders by its highest authorities; ten are from Eliza Snow, and six of those are her hymns. In this sample of five decades of talks, a current female leader of the Church was only quoted to an audience that included men once, when apostle Dallin Oaks quoted Relief Society president Linda Burton in the 2014 priesthood session.42 In fifty years, an apostle never quoted a current female leader in an April general session. Current male leaders, meanwhile, were quoted 257 times in that same period. It is worth noting, however, that male leaders who are not apostles (such as members of the Seventy) have been quoted even less frequently than female leaders (thirteen times as opposed to twenty-one).43 Apostles’ quotational emphasis on the authority of the institutional Church is entirely on its highest level—the level they themselves occupy. Because women are entirely excluded from that level, they are also excluded from consideration as ecclesiastical authorities.It may seem that the gender imbalance in general conference is thus a result of women's limited ecclesiastical authority. However, as discussed above, there are many other kinds of authority on which conference speakers draw, and leaders frequently make claims about women's moral and spiritual authority. Though women are excluded from the most important leadership roles, Church leaders have encouraged them to be “contributing and full partner[s]” with men rather than “silent . . . or limited partners.”44 Outside of leadership roles, then, one might hope for gender parity.However, this is not the case. Even when apostles quote sources who do not have ecclesiastical authority, they consistently prioritize male voices over female ones. Of the individuals quoted in conference who are neither scriptural nor high-level Church leaders, fully 77 percent of them are male. This number is changing over time, but not always equitably: between 2010 and 2015, 58.6 percent of quoted individuals without scriptural or high-level ecclesiastical authority were male; between 2016 and 2020, 69 percent were male.45 Representation of women, at least on this measure, has significantly46 increased since the 1970s, but this is happening neither quickly nor consistently.There are two important caveats about these patterns. First, these statistics are the product of hundreds of talks by almost forty different apostles over fifty years. They are not the product of any one person's conscious decision, and certainly no speaker selects his quotations with these broad patterns in mind. The average apostle quotes eleven times in a single talk, not nearly enough to cover all the categories of sources presented here.47 These patterns are also the structural default, the rhetorical norm for conference addresses, and individual speakers are unlikely to choose to deviate widely from them. This, however, makes it even more necessary to examine and bring them to light.Second, the consistent overrepresentation of male quotations in general conference can be explained in part by the overrepresentation of men in the worlds of ecclesiastical, scriptural, and cultural authority that conference speakers inhabit. The Church's all-male priesthood, male-focused scriptural canon, and patriarchal cultural context all play a role in muting women. The non-ecclesiastical sources cited by speakers include a greater number of well-known male writers and historical figures than female ones because many more men have historically been given the opportunity to become famous. There are also fewer conference talks and books on Church doctrine written by women. When thinking about the available sources leaders have to draw upon, women are consistently underrepresented, though not so dramatically as they are in quotation practices.48 In any case, this is only an explanation for these patterns, not a justification of them. The Church consistently emphasizes members’ responsibility to choose the right even when “the world” and those around them push in opposing directions. Leaning on excuses about cultural norms is unfair to leaders by refusing them the ability to choose differently.The persistent failure of apostles to quote women is a persistent failure to acknowledge women as authorities. This tells us something about the way they see their audience: when leaders do not feature women's voices, they indicate a belief that the community they are addressing would not view those voices as authoritative. They also affirm that belief. If the Church truly values women's voices, its leaders must take responsibility to do so themselves. Rather than being contributing and full partners, women are silent in general conference, limited by prophets and apostles. Not only do women speak less frequently in conference because of the restricted leadership roles available to them, but they are heard less frequently because other speakers choose to amplify male voices instead of female ones in their quotation practices. Women's silence here indicates a broader inability to be heard within the Church.Analyzing not just which sources leaders select but how and where they present those sources is key to understanding quotation's rhetorical role. Even when conference speakers choose to quote women, they engage in rhetorical techniques that further reflect women's lack of authority in the Church. Male leaders minimize women's presence and influence by frequently mentioning their appearance and relationship status and infrequently giving their names.Conference talks are written to be spoken. Understanding this is essential to understanding conference quotation because listeners, unlike readers, depend on authors to include information about when and who they cite in the body of the text rather than leaving it to parentheticals and footnotes (many readers may not scour the footnotes either). Embedded quotes go unrecognized by conference listeners unless speakers make a deliberate effort to frame them by changing their tone of voice or giving a verbal citation that provides an introduction to the quote. “1 Nephi 1:1,” “a young woman,” “it is said,” and “our beloved prophet, Russell M. Nelson” all function as verbal citations when spoken during an address. These citations can serve not just to indicate the source but to add to or explain its credentials: the common “our beloved prophet” preface does precisely that, as do additions like “prominent writer,” “one of my eminent business associates,” or “faithful wife and mother.” Verbal citations provide the information a speaker thinks the audience needs to understand and respect the source of a quotation.49If the source of a quotation plays a significant part in its selection, speakers are likely to verbally cite as fully as possible the sources that they take to be most authoritative. To see how women are acknowledged beyond the footnotes, each gendered non-scriptural quotation can be sorted into one of three categories based on the way a source was verbally cited: complete, incomplete, or none (table 3). A complete verbal citation indicates a specific individual. Both partial and full names were counted as completely verbally cited: “President Spencer W. Kimball,” “Bishop Williams,” and “Liz” are all complete. An incomplete verbal citation indicates only that the speaker is quoting someone. All quotations that were verbally cited but had no name attached counted as incomplete. “The poet,” “a dear sister,” and “a business executive” are incomplete verbal citations. The nones are quotations that were not verbally indicated at all by the speaker.The data on how different sources are verbally cited aligns with expectations in terms of the Church's most authoritative sources. The current prophet is completely verbally cited 94 percent of the time, and past prophets are verbally cited nine out of ten times. Similarly, apostles are completely verbally cited almost eight out of ten times, and non-apostle leaders are completely verbally cited six out of ten times. Female leaders of the Church, though rarely quoted, are completely verbally cited 95 percent of the time: when speakers cite female leaders, it seems that they do so deliberately and want their audience to know.50 This suggests, interestingly, that female Church authority does have weight in this context despite its infrequent representation.However, the opposite is true with women outside of Church leadership positions. Whereas non-leader men are completely verbally cited 62 percent of the time, non-leader women are only completely verbally cited 51 percent of the time, the lowest of any of those categories. They are also by far the highest, at 42 percent, of any group for incomplete citations. Between 2016 and 2020, women were quoted as named sources outside of narrative contexts only six times in front of men. In contrast, forty men who held no position of high-level leadership in the Church were quoted and named in non-narrative contexts in that time period, thirty in the general session. Non-leader men are significantly51 more likely to be completely verbally cited than non-leader women. These numbers demonstrate how men and women with the same level of ecclesiastical authority—local or none—are treated differently in terms of their authoritativeness for Church members. Not only do leaders quote women much less frequently than men, they often minimize their presence even when they do quote them.Again, part of this is due to the fact that more of these non-leader men than women are famous historical figures. However, speakers are more likely to name men than women even when

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