This past week we talked about differences in gender conceptions and in gender roles within religions, but we didn’t speak at all about differences by religious practice.
In fact, we see significant gender difference in religious practice. Here is a short summary of some interesting measures.
In the US, we see women exceeding men on nearly all of our measures of religiosity- attendance, salience, volunteering, prayer frequency, strength of belief, and more.
The only place where we see men consistently engaging in religion more than women, is at the leadership level. Men are more likely to be pastors, preachers, dharma leaders, and more. However, this is mostly explained by the fact that women are excluded from leadership positions in many religious traditions.
So what gives? Why are women more religious than men?
For this discussion, I would like you to drill down on this. There are lots of possible explanations.
Think about what we decided our definition of religion is- are some of the parts of our definition (groups, rituals, guidelines, meaning, etc.) more likely to speak to or fill the needs of women?
Thinking sociologically, why would women engage in religion more than men? Is there something about women’s position in society that might make religion more salient for women. Could income, education, labor force participation, etc. play a role?
Remember the things we talked about that religion provides certain things for the people, like social welfare, friendship, childcare, etc. Could women be taking more advantage of things? Religion also provides explanations for things like exploitation or trauma- could the social location of women lead them to engage in religion more? Maybe issues around reproduction/family life?
And a lot more. Like I said, there are many potential explanations. See what you can come up with.
Remember- trying to think sociologically here. Your answer should focus on sociological issues. Your answer should not be something like “well, women are biologically different from men and that’s all there is to it.” Biological difference could play a role, but it is unlikely to play a dominant one (we think somewhere between 0 and 30% of the difference). And this is a sociology class, so lets be sure to focus on the sociology part.
Two Responses to classmates!!
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