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Patriarchy and attitudes towards women

The WVS6 enquired about opinions on the status of women by inviting respondents to agree or disagree (on a scale of 1 to 4 with 1 representing “strong agreement”; 2, “agreement”; 3, “disagreement”; and 4, “strong disagreement”) with a number of statements about the role of women. This chapter examines five of these statements: (1) when a mother works for pay, her children suffer; (2) a university education is more important for a boy than a girl; (3) on the whole, men make better business executives than women; (4) being a housewife is as fulfilling as working for pay; and (5) women do not have the same rights as men.

Each of these five statements explored attitudes of women vis-a-vis men about the appropriate division between home and work for women. For example, the first statement asserts that the welfare of children requires a “stay-at-home mum” while the second disparages the relative importance of higher education for women compared to men. These scores were recoded so that the original scores of 1 to 2 in terms of the first four items, (1) through (4) listed earlier, were recoded as 1 (“agree”), and the original scores of 3 and 4 were recoded as 0 (“disagree”). For the fifth statement, reflecting women’s rights vis-a-vis those of men, the WVS6 asked respondents (both male and female) to mark on a scale of 1 to 10 how essential they thought it was that “in a democracy women had the same rights as men”, with 1 representing “not essential” and 10 representing “essential”. In this chapter, the responses

Male and female responses to statements about the status of women Source

Figure 6.7 Male and female responses to statements about the status of women Source: Own calculations, World Values Survey 6.

coded 1 through 9 in WVS6 were now coded as 1 (in that they represented varying degrees of ambivalence about the necessity for equal rights) while response 10 was coded as 0 (i.e., equal rights were unequivocally essential).

Figure 6.7 shows, separately, the male and female responses to these statements. The proportion of male respondents who agreed with these statements exceeded by a considerable margin the corresponding proportion of female respondents. For example, 49.7% of men agreed that children suffered when women worked, and 51.7% of men agreed that men made better executives than women; the corresponding proportions of women were 45% and 37.3%. The only exception to this pattern was the statement that being a housewife was as fulfilling as working for pay, with approximately equal proportions of men and women (nearly two out of three) agreeing with this.

Religion and patriarchy

The WVS6 asked respondents if they “belonged to a religion or a religious denomination”, and this study placed those who answered this question into one (and only one) of the following religious groups: (1) No religion, (2) Muslims, (3) Roman Catholics (hereafter simply “Catholics”), (4) Other Christians, (5) Flindu, (6) Jewish, and (7) Buddhist. Of the 79,526 respondents in these seven categories: 20.1% were of no religion, 26.8% were Muslims, 18.6% were Catholic, 26.6% were “other Christians” (i.e., not Catholic), 2.2% were Flindu, 0.5% were Jewish, and 5.1% were Buddhist.

Table A.2 shows the religious composition of the countries in terms of the percentage of their population that are of the religions enumerated earlier: of no religion, Muslim, Catholic, other Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist. The WV6 also identified its respondents according to their “religiosity”: (1) no religion; (2) declared religion, but not religious; and (3) declared religion and religious. The results showed that 62% of 77,095 respondents both had a religion and were religious, 17% were not religious within their declared faith, and 20.8% were of no religion.

Table 6.4 shows the proportion of respondents in each of the seven “religions” (no religion, Muslim, Catholic, other Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Buddhist) who agreed that (1) children suffer when mothers work, (2) university education is more important for boys compared to girls, (3) men make better business executives than women, and (4) an essential characteristic of democracy is that women have the same rights as men.

In terms of responses to these prompts, Table 6.4 shows that Muslims were the most “conservative” and persons of “no religion” the most liberal in terms of attitudes towards women: 61.5% of Muslims (rivalled only by 58.5% of Hindus), compared to 33% those of no religion and 25.6% of Jews, thought that children suffered if their mothers worked. Only 34.2% of Muslims, compared to 51.1% of those with no religion and 49.9% of Catholics, agreed that an essential characteristic of democracy was that women had the same rights as men.

Table 6.4 Percentage of persons from each of seven religion groups in four identified categories

Religion

Percentage of Persons From Each Religion Who

Agree

That

Children

Suffer if

Mothers

Work

Agree That University Is More Important for Boys

Agree That Men Make Better Business Executives Than Women

Agree That Women Have the Same Rights as Men*

No Religion

33.0

16.7

29.0

51.1

Muslim

61.5

35.4

64.8

34.2

Catholic

43.0

19.0

27.8

49.9

Other Christian

40.1

19.9

39.8

46.8

Hindu

58.5

46.7

56.0

21.4

Jewish

25.6

21.0

32.0

45.3

Buddhist

46.9

28.0

41.6

37.0

Overall

45.8

24.3

42.6

43.8

Source: Own calculations, World Values Survey 6.

* An essential characteristic of democracy is that women have the same rights as men.

The only religious group to rival Muslims in terms of patriarchy were Hindus. Hindus provided the largest proportion of respondents who agreed that university education was more important for boys than girls (46.7%), and they also provided the smallest proportion who agreed that an essential characteristic of democracy was that women had the same rights as men (21.4%). In these two respects, Hindus were even more conservative than Muslims.

Table 6.5 compares the responses of persons in terms of their religiosity: (1) no religion, (2) have a religion, but are not religious, and (3) have a religion and are religious. This shows that persons of no religion were more liberal in attitudes towards women than persons who regarded themselves as not religious within the context of a professed faith (hereafter, “not religious”); for example, while 51.1% of those with no religion agreed that an essential characteristic of democracy was that women had the same rights as men, only 42.8% of “non-religious” persons were similarly minded. Indeed, in terms of attitudes towards women, non-religious persons had more in common with religious persons than they did with persons of no religion.

Finally, Table 6.6 compares the responses of persons in terms of their region of residence: (1) Islamic countries, (2) African countries, (3) ex- Soviet Union countries, (4) Western countries, (5) Latin American countries, and (6) Asian countries. This shows that persons who lived in the West had the most liberal attitudes towards women: 63.2% agreed that women had the same rights as men compared to only 30.6% from Islamic countries and 28.2% in African countries; conversely, only 9.2% agreed that university was more important for boys, compared to 35.6% in Islamic countries and 33.5% in African countries.

Table 6.5 Percentage of persons from each of the three religiosity groups in four identified categories

Religiosity

Agree That Children Suffer if Mothers Work

Agree That University Is More Important for Boys

Agree That Men Make Better Business Executives Than Women

Agree That Women Have the Same Rights as Men*

No Religion

33.0

16.7

29.0

51.1

Has Religion, but not Religious

45.1

25.7

45.2

42.8

Has Religion and Is Religious

50.0

26.3

46.0

41.9

Overall

45.8

24.2

42.4

44.0

Source: Own calculations, World Values Survey 6.

l'An essential characteristic of democracy is that women have the same rights as men.

Table 6.6 Percentage of persons from each of six regions in four identified categories

Region

Agree That Children Suffer if Mothers Work

Agree That University Is More Important for Boys

Agree That Men Make Better Business Executives Than Women

Agree That Women Have the Same Rights as Men *

Islamic

70.0

35.6

66.0

30.6

Africa

41.8

33.5

53.2

28.2

Ex-Soviet

Union

41.5

26.6

53.8

45.9

The West

27.4

9.2

19.1

63.2

Latin

America

46.0

15.0

21.0

51.9

Asia

46.9

29.2

41.6

36.0

Overall

47.3

25.3

441.1

42.5

Source: Own calculations, World Values Survey 6.

* An essential characteristic of democracy is that women have the same rights as men.

 
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