Gender Gap in Church Attendance Narrows

Do you attend church once a week?

If you answered yes, you’re more likely to be a woman. The gender gap when it comes to attending religious services is prevalent in most countries that are predominately Christian — and this is the case in America as well.

However, that gender gap is now swiftly closing, as fewer women are attending religious services every week.

Between the years 1972 to 1974, 36 percent of women attended religious services weekly, while men were 10 points behind at 26 percent, according the Pew Research Center and data from the General Social Survey.

In the early to mid-1980s, that gap spiked at a 13-percentage point difference, with 38 percent of women and 25 percent of men attending.

But since the mid-1980s, that gap has grown smaller and smaller — because the number of total Americans attending church weekly has decreased.

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Currently there is a 6 percent difference in the number of men and women who attend church every week: The number of women is 28 percent and the number of men 22 percent, according to the Pew Research Center.

When it comes to women going to religious services, the number has starkly declined since the middle of the 80s — by a stunning 10 percent. The question, of course, is why?

One notion is that there are exponentially more women working full-time now and fewer women staying at home. Studies have found that working women are less likely to attend religious services regularly than those in the work force, and this is the statistic that the Pew Research Center partially attributes to the new findings.

Another possibility “is the difference between those Americans who are affiliated with a religion and those who are not. Since the 1990s, the share of religiously unaffiliated adults, or religious ‘nones,’ has more than doubled, growing from 8 percent in 1990 to 21 percent in 2014,” the study reported.

Another possibility is the decline in religiosity among the younger generation. Millennials have been found to be the least religious generation by leaps and bounds.

Michael Hout, a professor of sociology at New York University, spoke with the Pew Research Center about the findings on millennials and their lack of religious tendencies.

“Many millennials have parents who are baby boomers, and boomers expressed to their children that it’s important to think for themselves — that they find their own moral compass,” Hout said. “Also, they rejected the idea that a good kid is an obedient kid.”

A number of recent studies have indicated the U.S. has become increasingly less religious. The data above does substantiate this claim. But the number of men who attend church on Sundays has stayed relatively the same, decreasing only slightly.

Only time will tell if these trends will continue over the next decade — or if Americans will re-embrace faith.