Secularization and Gender: an Historical Approach To Women and Religion in the Twentieth Century

Secularization and Gender: an Historical Approach To Women and Religion in the Twentieth Century SECULARIZATION AND GENDER: AN HISTORICAL APPROACH TO WOMEN AND RELIGION IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY VIRGINIA LIESON BRERETON AND MARGARET LAMBERTS BENDROTH In 1916, James Leuba, a psychology professor at Bryn Mawr College, published a lengthy study documenting belief and unbelief among university professors and their students. The findings dismayed some and cheered others; according to Leuba's survey, as men progressed up the academic ladder, their religious beliefs slowly disappeared. The most eminent scholars and scientists appeared to be the most secular. What Leuba also found, but chose not to analyze in depth, was that unbelief correlated with gender. Among college men, 56 percent professed belief in a personal God, and 31 percent saw God as imper- sonal (Leuba's terminology). Among women, however, 82 percent believed that God was personal, and only 11 percent impersonal. Despite the existence of other parallel studies indicating similar dis- parities between men and women, Leuba ignored the potential sig- nificance of this evidence other than to dismiss the religiosity of fe- male college students as a sign of intellectual immaturity. During their adolescent years, he hypothesized, young women-but not young men-found their "desires for intellectual freedom and for a rational organization of opinions Method & Theory in the Study of Religion Brill

Secularization and Gender: an Historical Approach To Women and Religion in the Twentieth Century

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© 2001 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
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