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Where are the Men and Boys? The Gender Imbalance in the Church of England.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date2003
JournalJournal of Contemporary Religion
Journal number1
Volume18
Number of pages15
Pages61-75
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Research has confirmed what is obvious to members of the main Christian denominations: there are widening gender differences in religious practice from infancy to adulthood. Men also display lower levels of belief and less positive attitudes towards religion and fewer report having had a religious experience. Nevertheless, the most recent Church of England reports on youth, “Taking A Part” and “Youth A Part”, treat young people as genderless while taking race, social class, and urban/rural differences seriously. The purpose of the Boys’ Project was to research gender differences in church/Sunday group attendance in the Church of England by focusing on a small number of contrasting parishes in the Diocese of Chester. Overall, two-thirds of children attending were girls, most coming with both parents or their mother. Adult attendance at services was also around two-thirds female. A questionnaire was used with young people aged 7–18 years which found, through indirect questions using a story form for younger children, that both sexes thought boys were less likely to enjoy Sunday morning groups and that activities reflected the girls’ rather than the boys’ reported leisure interests. Few young people make the transition from a Sunday group to attending normal services, but those who did tended to become more involved in their church. Factors contributing to the gender imbalance are considered including the facilities and staff of Sunday groups, the attitudes and influence of parents and peers, the image of the church, and the place of religion in men’s and women’s lives.