This study uses measures of cognitive and expressive aspects of gender as a social identity from the General Social Survey to examine whether and how they relate to religiosity. I find that religiosity is clearly gendered, but in different ways for women and men. Consistent with the feminine-typing of religion in the Christian-majority context of the United States, gender expression is linked with more religiousness among women but not men. Consistent with religion being a sometimes patriarchal institution, those with more pride in being men are more religious. I conclude that religiosity is gendered, that degendering and secularization processes could go hand-in-hand, and that future research on gender differences in religiosity should further examine variation among women and among men.
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In this study I talk about “gender as a social identity” instead of “gender identity” because I am referring not to whether someone identifies as a man, woman, or non-binary, but instead aspects of gender as a social identity (e.g., the strength of their in-group identity with men or women) (Tajfel 1981).
Data for this study were downloaded from http://www.thearda.com/Archive/Files/Downloads/GSS2014_DL.asp. I focus on cases with complete information on gender pride and expression—which were fielded to a subsample of GSS respondents—religiosity, and covariates. Only 14 cases, or 1% of cases, were excluded for missing data on covariates. A more substantial amount of data were missing on sexual orientation and religious affiliation, so I created additional categories of “missing” for the sexual orientation and religious affiliation measures. Additional analyses using multiple-imputation indicate that missing data do not bias the results.
Although typically described as a measure of sex (i.e., female/male), the binary “sex” measure in the GSS is interviewer-coded. Therefore, it may be more of a measure of gender (i.e., woman/man), and related gender expression, than is often assumed.
I originally conducted a factor analysis and found support for one religiosity factor. Analyses with that factor yield equivalent results to the summative scale analyses presented here.
Additional analyses with additional covariates excluded for empirical and/or theoretical reasons—such as mother’s and father’s SES, political views, and gender ideology—yielded similar substantive patterns.
Multicollinearity checks demonstrate appropriate VIFs across models. In no model are the VIFs for gender in-group pride or gender expression over 2.
Gender in-group pride does positively and significantly predict religiosity among women when gender expression is not included in the model. Therefore, gender pride does seem to matter, but only as it relates to feminine gender expression.
Additional analyses considered whether the patterns varied among those with non-Christian affiliations. There were only 15 women and 32 men affiliated with a religion besides Christianity. Among non-Christian women, the gender expression coefficient reverses from what it is among Christian women. But among non-Christian men the gender pride coefficient is in the same direction and actually larger (though not significant due to the small sample size). Therefore, these very limited supplemental analyses are suggestive that Christianity may be feminine-typed in a way other religions are not, but that the link between men’s gender in-group pride and religiosity is not limited to Christians.
Given the available data I cannot determine whether it is men’s gender pride reinforcing religiosity, religiosity reinforcing men’s gender pride, or, more likely, both.
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I am grateful to the four anonymous reviewers for their helpful feedback.
See Table 2.
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Schnabel, L. Gendered Religiosity. Rev Relig Res 59, 547–556 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13644-017-0302-9
- Social Identity