The decision is being billed as the biggest the General Synod has taken in the 20 years since it first backed the introduction of women priests.
In spite of women now making up around a third of all clergy, and just under half of those training for ordination, the Church has struggled to draw up legislation introducing women bishops which is accepted by both traditionalists and pro-women campaigners.
Complex negotiations have centred on the arrangements where a woman bishop is appointed but traditionalist parishes reject her authority.
Anger is building in the Commons over the Church of England's decision on women bishops, but what action, if any, can be taken?
The Church of England General Synod voted against allowing women bishops in what the Archbishop of Canterbury called "a missed opportunity".
Today's debate on female bishops is painfully slow but shows the determination of the Church to build consensus and respect their community.