Sex Roles, Vol. 51, Nos. 5/6, September 2004 (
Measuring Perceptions of Gender Roles: The IAWS
for Pakistanis and U.S. Immigrant Populations
and Irene Hanson Frieze
A new scale called the Islamic Attitudes Toward Women Scale (IAWS) was developed and
administered to a sample of 195 Pakistani adults and to a sample of 140 Muslim immigrants
in the United States. In support of the construct validation of the scale, it was found to sig-
niﬁcantly differentiate between liberal and conservative Muslims in Pakistan, and in both
samples, men held more conservative attitudes than women. For both women and men, more
liberal scores on the IAWS were correlated with less accepting beliefs about marital violence
toward women. In the U.S. immigrant sample, those who had been in the United States longer
had less conservative attitudes.
KEY WORDS: gender attitudes; Islam; Muslims.
There are perhaps half a billion Muslim women
living in all major areas of the world today (Smith,
1987). Though there are common features among
these women, the realities of their lives vary greatly
from group to group. In this paper, we present a
scale developed for diverse groups of Muslims, de-
signed to assess different images of appropriate roles
for women and for men. These images have been la-
beled as “gender-role attitudes” in the United States
(Frieze & McHugh, 1997). The Islamic Attitudes
Toward Women Scale (IAWS) was modiﬁed from
the most widely used gender-role attitude measure
in the United States (McHugh & Frieze, 1997), the
Spence and Helmreich’s Attitude Toward Women
Scale (Spence & Helmreich, 1972). It is hoped that
this scale can enhance research relating to gender is-
sues in Muslim populations. The scale is validated
through known groups comparisons and through the-
oretically predicted correlations. Both of these are
standard forms of construct validation (Cohen &
University of the Punjab, Lahore, Pakistan.
Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh,
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department
of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
15260; e-mail: email@example.com.
The diversity in Muslim women’s behavior and
roles is expressed across different Muslim societies,
as well as within each society (Charrad, 1998). Such
diversity may be related to the fact that Islam pro-
vides a general framework for life, with a range of
individual options. In the Islamic world, gender roles
are largely based on Quranic injunctions, which are
interpreted differently by various religious scholars.
As Muslims move to other, non-Islamic regions of
the world, they may be inﬂuenced by the dominant
cultures in these regions.
Quranic injunctions for women are clustered
around four major issues: Marriage-related topics
such as divorce, inheritance and ownership of prop-
erty, veiling, and seclusion (Smith, 1987). The Islamic
laws (the sharia) are based not only on the Quran,
but also on those things that the Holy Prophet is
known to have said and done (chronicled in a body of
literature called the hadiths), and, to a lesser extent,
on analogy and legal reasoning. For devout Muslims,
the regulations formulated by the Quran in regard to
women must be adhered to with strictness. But, ha-
diths, analogy, and legal reasoning can lead to a va-
riety of interpretations. Such interpretations are not
divine and can be challenged. Different Muslim sects
may disagree on some aspects of Islamic law because
of differences in interpretations (Smith, 1987).
2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.