Gender difference in Church Attendance

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There are considerable gender differences in attendance to Christian churches. Church attendance is declining globally,
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though trends differ depending on country. In general, more women are leaving the church. The 2005 English Church Census, for instance, shows that churches are losing at least 50,000 women worshippers each and every year since 1989 (a total of over a million).

Dr Kristin Aune, a sociologist at the University of Derby, interprets these high figures as a result of a combination of factors including:

  • Fertility levels – women have fewer children and are not having enough children to replace the older generation lost from the church.
  • Feminist values – feminist values began influencing women in the 1960s and 1970s. Feminism challenged traditional Christian views about women’s roles and raised women’s aspirations.
  • Paid employment – At the beginning of the 1900s, a third of women were in paid work, now two thirds are in the labour market. Juggling employment with childcare and housework causes time pressures and attending church is one activity to suffer.
  • Family diversity – compared to wider society, churches include fewer non-traditional families. Family forms which are growing such as singleness, lone-parent families and cohabitation are under-provided for and even discouraged by churches.
  • Sexuality – The church’s silence about sexuality is driving women to leave, feeling that the church requires them to deny or be silent about sexual desire and activity.

Australia

From the 2006 National Church Life Survey, around 19% of Australians attend church at least monthly. The Catholic Church is the largest denomination. The young and men are under-represented: only 39% of attenders are male. According to the survey, although more women attend church than men in general, Australian women engaged in full-time work have the same low church attendance levels as men in full-time work. This means that as increasing numbers of women participate full-time in the workforce, they could be expected to have reduced levels of church involvement.

Europe and the US

In Italy, government surveys have shown that around 30 per cent of Italians attend Mass every Sunday, and a further 20 per cent attend once a month. Irrespective of regional differences (more people in southern Italy attend church regularly), twice as many women as men go to church once or more a week.

In a poll in the US, 45% of women said that they attended church in the past week in contrast to 35% of men.

Sources


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