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Women, Gender and Religion

2. Women and Religiosity

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In this module, we explore why it is that women appear to be more 'religious' than men, focusing in particular on: (i) popular perceptions of religiosity in the UK and elsewhere; (ii) the importance of the work done by the Pew Research Centre ('The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World'), which shows that women are in fact generally more religious than men, especially among Christians; (iii) the global variations in the overall picture, e.g. in Muslim countries, in China, etc.; (iv) the striking gender gap in 'alternative spirituality', e.g. yoga, reiki, and other holistic practices; and (v) the extent to which men tend to hold positions of power within religious organisations.


In this course, Professor Linda Woodhead (Lancaster University) explores religion through the lens of feminism/gender studies. In the first module, we explore some classic feminist critiques of Christianity, including the work of Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) and Mary Daly (1928-2010). In the second module, we think about why women appear to be more religious than men, before turning in the third module to consider why some women living in gender-liberal societies choose to convert to gender-conservative forms of religion. In the fourth and fifth modules, we look at the work of two religious reformers – Fatima Mernissi and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza – before turning in the sixth modules to a range of women who took a more radical approach to the problem of misogyny in the religion they were brought up in. Finally, in the seventh module, we move beyond the major, institutionalised religions (e.g. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.) to consider more 'everyday' religious beliefs and practices, e.g. checking one's horoscope in the newspaper, visiting a psychic or medium, etc. and exploring the extent to which these too are patterned by gender.


Professor Linda Woodhead is Distinguished Professor of Religion and Society at Lancaster University. She has written widely on religion in modern society. Her recent publications include That Was The Church That Was: How the Church of England Lost the English People (2016) (as co-author), Christianity: A Very Short Introduction (2014), and Everyday Lived Islam in Britain (2013) (as co-author).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Woodhead, L. (2021, August 23). Women, Gender and Religion - Women and Religiosity [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Woodhead, L. "Women, Gender and Religion – Women and Religiosity." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 23 Aug 2021,

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