Gender and religious belief

Trends on gender and religious belief and reasons for it. Including theorists. 

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Women are more likely to..

  • Express greater interest in religion, have stronger personal faith and belief in life after death and have stronger personal religious commitment
  • Involve themselves more in religious rituals and worship (e.g. attend religious services, pray, involve with NRM's and NAM's) 
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Miller and Hoffmann: Gender socialisation means women are brought up to be more submissive, passive, obedient and nurturing. More involved with feelings, cooperation and caring. 

Guardians of family life

  • Expected to be guardians of the family 
  • Take on family and home responsibilities 
  • Halman and Draulams: These roles give women a greater focus on family so are likely to take charge of their childrens moral development and introduce them to approved social values including religion

Visions of God 

Davie: Women associate God with love, comfort and forgiveness - linked with femininity and family roles. Men associate God with power and control. Conclusion: Women lean more to people orientation which may explain their involvement in religion

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Explanations 2


  • Bruce: Women's socialisation into nurturing, child bearing and rearing experiences make them less confrontational, less aggressive, less goal orientated, less domineering, more cooperative and more caring - this explains their greater involvement in mainstream denominations, religious sects and New Age ideas. 

Life, death and the changes in life

  • Greeley: Caring is associated with a religious outlook
  • Walter and Davie: Women are exposed to the ups and downs of life

Life expectancy 

  • Women live longer than men so are more likely to be widowed and living alone - They may turn to religion as a source of support and comfort, as a means of building support networks in their communities
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Explanations 3


Women are more likely to:

  • Experience poverty
  • Experience personal or family problems
  • Less self confident, more likely to seek improvement
  • Be less powerful

^^ This means they may seek and find solace in religious groups. Especially NRM's which have theodicies explaining their feelings and have solutions and support. 

Status Frustration

This may be experienced by women who lack personal fulfillment as a result of being confined to the home or being in unsatisfying lower-middle class jobs that are mainly done by women. Religious participation, particularly cults and sects, overcome or compensate for this

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