Journal Article

The Sources of Gender Role Attitudes among Christian and Muslim Arab-American Women

Jen'nan Ghazal Read

in Sociology of Religion

Published on behalf of Association for the Sociology of Religion

Volume 64, issue 2, pages 207-222
Published in print January 2003 | ISSN: 1069-4404
Published online January 2003 | e-ISSN: 1759-8818 | DOI:
The Sources of Gender Role Attitudes among Christian and Muslim Arab-American Women

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This study examines the impact of religion on the gender role attitudes of Arab-American women, members of an ethnic group comprised of Christians and Muslims. A popular stereotype of Arab-American women portrays them as Islamic traditionalists — veiled and secluded within the home, yet few empirical studies document the effects of Islam on Arab-American women's attitudes and behaviors. This study addresses this question and distinguishes particular cultural influences on women's gender beliefs using survey data collected from a national sample of Arab Americans. Results of the analysis find that Arab-American women are more diverse and less traditional than popular stereotypes imply. Over one-half of women sampled are Christian, nearly one-half are foreign-born, and many hold progressive gender role beliefs. Moreover, the analysis finds that religiosity and ethnicity are more important in shaping women's gender role attitudes than are their affiliations as Muslims and Christians.

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Subjects: Religion ; Sociology of Religion

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