Women are more religious than men, a new study by Pew Research Centre has found.
The research appears to confirm a widely held view that women are religious than men.
The study, The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World, collected data from 2005 to 2015 as well as surveyed six faith groups (Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and the religiously unaffiliated).
The report noted that 83.4% of women around the world identify with a faith group, compared with 79.9% of men – a difference of about 97 million people.
Women, the report said, made up more than half of those identifying as Christians (53%), Jews (52%) and Buddhists (54%); and slightly less than half of Hindus (49%).
However, Muslims were split 50/50 on gender. The biggest gender divide was among the religiously unaffiliated, with 55% men and 45% women.
Scientists are yet to confirm whether the genetic make of women makes them more religious.
But David Voas, head of the Department of Social Science at University College London, who was consulted for the paper, said the genetic disposition of women turns to make them more religious.
He said: “I’m not an expert in genetics, but there appears to be some fairly compelling evidence (for example from studies of twins) that genes do affect our disposition to be religious.
“And if that’s the case, it’s at least plausible that the gender gap in religiosity is partly a matter of biology.
“If true, though, I doubt that it’s because there’s a “God gene” and women are more likely to have it than men.
“It seems easier to believe that physiological or hormonal differences could influence personality, which may in turn be linked to variations in “spirituality” or religious thinking.”
The study surveyed 81 countries across the continent.
In 30 out of the 81 countries, it found that women in countries with large Christian population reported greater attendance to prayers.
In 28 countries with large Muslim population, men reported more weekly attendance to prayers.
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Professor Voas said women are drawn to Christianity because it presents itself as the “religion of the powerless.”
“Christianity presents itself as a religion of the powerless: ‘Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth,’” he said.
He added: “Depending on your point of view, that’s appealingly feminine or appallingly effeminate. Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in his characteristically abrasive way that women need ‘a religion of weakness that glorifies being weak, loving, and … humble as divine.’”
Professor Voax added that some research show that women who traditionally stay at home turn to be more religious.
He said: “Some research does indeed suggest that working outside the home is associated with lower religious involvement.
“If we accept that finding (and the research results haven’t been wholly consistent), the interesting question is why that should be the case. Maybe paid employment crowds out time for religious involvement, or perhaps being exposed to different values and worldviews tends to undermine religious commitment.
“Alternatively, though, causality could operate in the other direction: Maybe women who already are less religious go out to work and those who are more traditional stay at home.”