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Annotated Bibliography on Gender Roles and Religion

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Religion
Wordcount: 2053 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

Reference this

Reference one

Samani, S. 2016. Between Texts and Contexts: Contemporary Muslim Gender Roles. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. 27(3), pp. 319-332.


  • Examines the varying boundaries of gender roles in Australian-Muslim households.
  • Argues that there are differences between textual instruction and contextual realities, with Muslim’s living in agreement with mainstream society.
  • Highlights the Islamic attitude on the biological differences between females and males as being the basis for understanding gender roles, with men having a providing role and women having a caring role.
  • These differences between textual instruction and contextual realities are highlighted by more women also stepping into a providing role in a household.

Methodology / Method

  • Takes a theological approach to gender roles in Islam.
  • Gender roles are based on the qur’anic account of creation
  • Qualitative approach taken to allow focus on the meanings participants ascribed to their experiences.
  • Narrative enquiry used in the primary research to capture the subtle differences of how the participants understand providing and caring roles in a household.


  • Shows how in Islam gender roles are reinforced through the teachings of the Quran.
  • Gives detailed accounts of the 20 participants experiences with Islam and gender roles, highlighting how geographic location effects the strictness of gender roles. 
  • Limitations: the study focuses only on women in Islam so doesn’t allow for comparisons with other faith groups and the author notes that a fuller representation would have been grasped if the perspectives of Muslim men were also included.

Reference two

Donnenworth, G.V. 1998. Religion and Declining Support for Traditional Beliefs About Gender Roles and Homosexual Rights. Sociology of Religion. 59(4), pp. 353-371.


  • Despite prior research suggesting that conservative religion fosters traditional gender roles to a higher level than other religious groups, this study highlights that support for traditional gender role beliefs declined as rapidly amongst conservative groups as it did in other Christian groups.
  • Generally, it shows that attitudes toward gender roles have become more liberal (from 1970 – 1990).
  • Argues that social influences that were undermining conservative attitudes toward gender roles in wider society were also undermining them within the conservative protestant church.

Methodology / Method

  • Data used comes from the NORC General Social Survey years 1972-1993.
  • Longitudinal study – survey completed once per year for above dates.
  • Sociological approach – tests ‘Berger’s theory’ that high levels of intra group support are necessary to maintain beliefs that are losing support in the general population.
  • Church attendance was measured on a 9-point scale, gender role attitudes were measured with 4 items.


  • Added evidence to the general trend that attitudes toward traditional gender roles were becoming more liberal.
  • Use of surveys meant the sample size could be large, with 12,466 respondents analysed in terms of gender roles. This gives greater reliability to the study. In contrast to reference one which only had 20 participants. However, this meant that the reference one study had greater validity.
  • Limitations: only examines Christian attitudes to gender roles. Although it shows these attitudes becoming more liberal, research into perspectives from other religions would be necessary to gain insight into whether religious attitudes toward gender roles were becoming more liberal, generally.

Reference three

Francis, C.J. 2005. Gender Role Orientation and Attitude Toward Christianity: Journal of Psychology and Theology. 33(3), pp. 179-186


  • This journal entry begins with the finding that women are more religious than men (generally) within both Christian and non-Christian religions.
  • Despite this, the findings of this project show that when gender orientation is considered, biological sex doesn’t act as a predictor of individual differences in religiosity.
  • It argues that being religious is a function of gender orientation rather than of being male or female, in contrast to the beginning finding – it is a consistent experience for those with a feminine orientation, which a man or woman can both have. 

Methodology / Method

  • Sociological approach
  • Questionnaires were answered by a sample of 496 members of a university for older men and women in the UK.
  • Gender role orientation was assessed by the Bem Sex Role Inventory and religiosity was assessed by the Francis Scale of Attitude Toward Christianity.
  • Results from the present study along with a study by Thompson and Remmes among older men, and a study by Thompson among undergraduates in USA, and a study by Francis and Wilcox among undergraduates in Wales and a study by Francis and Wilcox among school pupils of 13-18 were analysed.
  • The data was analysed by the SPSS statistical package.


  • That women are more religious than men was a finding I encountered early on in this topic. This journal entry significantly added to my understanding of the relationship between gender roles and religion by clearing up some issues to do with this general claim, namely that gender role orientation, as opposed to biological sex, is a better indicator of religiosity.
  • Analysing their own results along with prior studies’ results adds to the reliability of the findings as the sample size was bigger and it meant a wider range of ages were included adding to the reliability of the finding.
  • Limitations: however, like reference 2, the study is limited to Christianity only. Therefore, perhaps it is only in Christianity that gender role orientation as opposed to biological sex, is a better indicator of religiosity. I would need to do more research in terms of this within other religions.

Reference four

Duderija, A. 2016. The Custom (‘urf) Based Assumptions Regarding Gender Roles and Norms in the Islamic Tradition: A Critical Examination. Studies in Religion. 45 (4), pp. 581-599.


  • Argues that the approach taken to gender subjects in classical Islamic tradition is grounded in several custom based assumptions regarding what is considered inherently male or female by nature.
  • Most assumptions based on gender come from traditional Muslim scholar’s subscription to ‘gender complementarity’ theory. Duderija furthers this point arguing that an all-male, Muslim scholar group built normative masculinity almost solely in terms of anti-femininity.

Methodology / Method

  • Takes a theological approach, looking at the thesis used in conjunction with scriptural texts to construct the gender roles in place today within Muslim contexts.
  • Looks at the writings of influential, classical Muslim scholars in terms of how these writings contributed to forming gender roles.


  • Added to my understanding of gender roles and religion by explaining how Islamic gender roles came to be formed in terms of the theories used by those interpreting Islamic texts early on, to form rules and customs.
  • Limits: focuses only on Islam, would want to research ‘gender complementarity’ theory in terms of other religions to see if it also impacted how other religions interpreted scriptural texts in terms of forming cultural norms.

Reference five

Kung, H. 2005. Women in Christianity. London; New York: Continuum.


  • Kung sees the role of women as necessary for the Church to develop, both as an organisation and in terms of spreading the gospel of Christianity.
  • Argues that for most world religions women are viewed as problematic and secondary to men.
  • Notes that contemporary development has been made, but only on the level of parishes, with a toxic attitude toward abortion, contraception and divorce remaining – at the expense of the female members.

Methodology / Method

  • Over the course of two years, Kung headed a project researching Christianity and religion.
  • Historical approach: examining women and Christianity over its 2000-year period, highlighting some shameful actions by the church – e.g. the ban of women as servers and becoming ordained, to justify the claim that Roman Catholic Canonical law is male centric.
  • Started the project from two ends – the start of Christianity and the 20th century.


  • Gives a historical overview of the relationship between women and Christianity, going back to the very beginning. Whilst most texts have a focus on today.
  • Kung’s position at the University of Tubingen gave him independence from the Christian organization he is a part of as a priest – limiting the bias in his writings, towards Christianity.

Reference six

Tohidi, N and Bayes, H.J. 2001. Women Redefining Modernity and Religion in the Globalized Context. In: Bayes, J.H. and Tohidi, N. Globalization, Gender and Religion: The Politics of Women’s Rights in Catholic and Muslim Contexts. Basingstoke: Palgrave, pp. 17-61


  • This chapter focuses on how Catholicism and Islam recognize women, with both viewing them as having the prescribed functions of motherhood, nurturing and domesticity. Tohidi and Bayes argue that it is these functions that make women remain inferior as they make them weak, in the eyes of the respective religions.
  • Argues that both religions have a set place for women in a community, focusing on a community, rather than seeing men and women as independent entities.
  • The priority for women in both religions is to bear children within a marriage.

Methodology / Method

  • Historical approach: looks at the emergence of both religions as developing within patriarchal societies, where men have the domination of authority to interpret scripture.
  • Theological approach: looks at the bible and Qur’an passages cited as the basis of ‘gender roles’ with females seen as made to be the ‘companion’ of man.


  • Highlights that religion is only one variable affecting gender roles. The other texts I have referenced so far have presented religion as the main, or almost only, influence on gender roles.
  • Compares Christianity and Islam, highlighting similarities and differences in regard to gender roles.


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