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Women More Active Than Men in Many Global Faith Communities

A gender gap is evident in religious engagement around the world and particularly in the United States.

Analyzing data from six faith traditions – Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated – Pew Research Center found “that globally, women are more devout than men by several standard measures of religious commitment.”

This conclusion considered four criteria: religious affiliation, frequency of worship service attendance, daily prayer and personal affirmation of religion’s importance.

In the 61 nations surveyed, female religious affiliation was more prevalent than males by 2 percentage points or more.

“In the remaining countries, women and men display roughly equal levels of religious affiliation because in many cases nearly all people of both genders identify with some religious group,” Pew found. “There are no countries in which men are more religiously affiliated than women by 2 percentage points or more.”

Overall, 83.4 percent of women around the world affiliated with a faith tradition, compared to 79.9 percent of men.

“This gap of 3.5 percentage points means that an estimated 97 million more women than men claim a religious affiliation worldwide,” the report revealed.

Worship attendance was more balanced, with more women attending services weekly in 30 nations (mostly in North and South America, parts of Europe and South Africa) and more men doing so in 28 nations (mostly in North Africa and the Middle East).

Regarding daily prayer, women were more likely than men to pray in 43 nations, while there was no statistical gender difference in prayer habits in 40 nations. Only in Israel did more men than women pray daily.

More women than men in 36 global nations affirmed religion’s importance in their lives, compared to only two nations (Mozambique and Israel) in which more men than women did so. There was no statistically significant difference in 46 nations.

Gender differences varied across faith traditions.

“Muslim women and Muslim men show similar levels of religiousness on all measures of religious commitment except frequency of attendance at worship services,” Pew noted. “Because of religious norms, Muslim men attend services at a mosque much more often than Muslim women do.”

This trend was also seen among Orthodox Jews where “communal worship services cannot take place unless a minyan, or quorum of at least 10 men, is present.”

By contrast, “across all measures of religious commitment, Christian women are more religious than Christian men, often by considerable margins.”

This is particularly true in the U.S. where “women are more likely than men to say religion is “very important” in their lives (60 percent vs. 47 percent), … are more likely than American men to say they pray daily (64 percent vs. 47 percent) and attend religious services at least once a week (40 percent vs. 32 percent).”

The full report is available here.