Where gender and religion meet: differentiating gender role ideology and religious beliefs about gender.
Despite the link between beliefs about gender and religion, the relationship between Evangelical Christians' religious beliefs about gender and gender role ideology has yet to be explored. While past studies have considered gender roles as they relate to religious affiliation (Ali, Mahmood, Moel, Hudson, & Leathers, 2008) few studies have explored the importance of internalized religious beliefs as they relate to gender. Instead, the assumption has often been made that traditional religious beliefs about gender translate into traditional gender role ideology. However, a handful of studies suggest that the relationship between religious beliefs and gender role ideology may be more complicated. For example, Olsen (2005) reported that two-parent evangelical families with children were more likely than the general population to have both parents working full time. Likewise, Gallagher and Smith (1999) found that while Christian Evangelicals may espouse religious beliefs about gender that are traditional (such as male headship), the lived-out gender roles within the family are more egalitarian in nature. The current study sought to investigate female Evangelical Christians' gender role ideology as it relates to their religious beliefs about gender. Additionally, outcomes were explored as they related to participants' gender role ideology and religious beliefs about gender.
Evangelical Christianity and Gender Role Ideology
While the psychological literature as a whole defines gender role ideology as beliefs about appropriate roles for men and women (McHugh & Frieze, 1997), studies that address Christianity and gender role ideology largely conflate biblical beliefs regarding gender with gender role ideology (Ali et al., 2008; Colaner & Giles, 2008; Colaner & Warner, 2005). This conflation assumes the equivalence of the two constructs, rendering invisible any differences between religious beliefs about gender and gender role ideology as well as the possibility that these two constructs may be associated with different outcomes. The larger body of research that explores religion and gender roles also fails to capture the relationship between religious beliefs about gender and beliefs about gender roles. Specifically, this literature commonly measures religious involvement or identification, rather than religious beliefs about gender, as it relates to gender roles (Baker, Sanchez, Nock, & Wright, 2009; Das & Nairn, 2014; Ellison & Bartkowski, 2002; Ringel & Belcher, 2007; Roder, 2014) or measures religious beliefs and gender role ideology but fails to consider religious beliefs about gender (Berkel, Vandiver, & Bahner, 2004; Francis, 2005; Ward & Cook, 2011). Finally, this body of literature often conflates gender role ideology and gender role practice. Because of research suggesting possible inconsistencies between gender role ideology and gender role practice (Gallagher & Smith, 1999), the current study considers these constructs separately.
Evangelical Christians and Gender Role Ideology and Practice
Only a handful of studies to date have considered gender role ideology in a Christian population. one area of exploration in these studies is the qualities or responsibilities that Christian women attribute to their gender in the context of their marriages. overall, it appears that Christian women believe in wifely submission to husbands, that men should be the head of the household, and that a woman's primary responsibility is as a help-mate to her husband as expressed through child-rearing and household tasks (Ali, Mahmood, Moel, Hudson, & Leathers, 2008; Ringel & Belcher, 2007). Research indicates that these beliefs hold practical implications for women's work responsibilities. Specifically, one study found that Evangelical females perform more housework overall and spend more time doing "female-typed" housework than do nonreligious females (Ellison & Bartkowski, 2002). Additionally, in this study, even when Evangelical females' level of education was accounted for, this did not translate into less housework for females or greater involvement in female-typed housework by males. Surprisingly, though Evangelical females appear to experience greater inequity in household duties compared to their non-religious peers, they have higher marital quality and sexual outcomes. Likewise, Evangelical males report higher marital quality than do their non-religious peers (Das & Nairn, 2014).
Research also suggests that within-group variance is important to consider when exploring Christian women's gender role ideology. Specifically, while some Christian women hold to traditional beliefs regarding gender roles, others believe in the equality of the genders in both principle and practice. Research indicates that as one's level of gender equity increases, so do career aspirations as well as interest in finding a job that gives purpose, provides opportunity for advancement, and that offers opportunities for leadership and management (Colaner & Warner, 2005). Likewise, those who hold a more traditional gender role ideology have higher mothering aspirations compared to their counterparts who emphasize gender equity (Colaner & Giles, 2008).
However, the within-group differences exhibited in these studies are complicated by findings suggesting that Christians' beliefs regarding gender do not necessarily translate to gendered practices. Specifically, two major themes arose from a qualitative study on Christian gender roles including symbolic traditionalism and pragmatic egalitarianism (Gallagher & Smith, 1999). Symbolic traditionalism captured participants' beliefs in male headship and leadership in addition to the importance of women's submissive behavior. Pragmatic egalitarianism captured the lived-out experience of gender roles in which participants functionally acted in an egalitarian manner as evidenced by shared responsibilities for decision-making, mutual respect, and an egalitarian stance in beliefs about employment. The researchers concluded that Evangelical Christians' biblically-informed religious beliefs about gender were primarily symbolic in nature and did not coincide with participants' practice of gender.
Together, these studies exemplify the influential role that religion plays in women's gender role ideology. Specifically, it appears that conservative Evangelical Christian gender role ideology typically promotes traditional gender roles which place women under the authority of men and affirm their position in domestic roles rather than roles outside of the house. However, in other circumstances it appears that biblically informed gender role ideology may not directly transfer to the practice of gender roles in Evangelical Christians' lives.
Evangelical Christians and Biblical Beliefs About Gender
While religion has often been explored as a demographic variable, only recently has interest in the content of religious beliefs begun to be explored. Research on the relationship between religious beliefs and other variables has addressed beliefs regarding constructs such as forgiveness, intellectual humility, and support for democracy (Bloom & Arikan, 2013; Escher, 2013; Hopkin, Hoyle, & Toner, 2014). Notably, examination of the content of a population's biblical beliefs is important because it provides greater depth of understanding as to how religion influences thoughts, behaviors, and outcomes as compared to more external factors such as religious affiliation or involvement in religious activities (Escher, 2013). Additionally, religious beliefs take on a greater level of importance in understanding behaviors when the individual or group is highly committed to the beliefs (Maxwell-Smith, Seligman, Conway, & Cheung, 2008). No study to date has quantitatively looked at how religious beliefs about gender relate to gender role ideology and how these in turn relate differentially to outcomes.
Gender Role Ideology and Outcomes
While the outcomes of both traditional and non-traditional gender role ideology are well-documented in the literature, there are few studies that explore the relationship between outcomes and gender role ideology in Evangelical Christian women. As previously summarized, the three studies that directly address this area of research consider the influence of female Evangelical Christian's gender role ideology on marital quality and sexual outcomes (Das & Nairn, 2014), career aspirations (Colaner &Warner, 2005), and mothering aspirations (Colaner & Giles, 2008). Research outside of an Evangelical Christian population that considers the relationship between gender role ideology and outcomes emphasizes constructs including self-silencing (Swim, Eyssel, Murdoch, & Ferguson, 2010), career aspirations (Cooper, Arkkelin, & Tiebert, 1994; Morinaga, Frieze, & Ferligoj, 1993; Rudman & Phelan, 2010), self-objectification (Choma, Visser, Pozzebon, Bogaert, Busseri, & Sadava, 2010; Pennell & Behm-Morawitz, 2015), and subjective well-being (Chang, 2011; Lipinska-Grobelny, 2011; Weiss, Freund, & Wiese, 2012), among others. Collectively, these studies demonstrate that a relationship exists between more traditional gender role ideology and increased self-silencing behaviors, lower career aspirations, and greater self-objectification. Subjective well-being's relationship to gender role ideology is more nuanced. Specifically, women experience increased well-being when their gender role ideology corresponds to their prescriptions or characteristics of the ideal social category for women (Chang, 2011). Additionally, women who are low in openness experience greater well-being when they endorse traditional gender role ideology, whereas women who are high in openness experience greater well-being when they reject traditional gender role ideology (Weiss, Freund, & Wiese, 2012).
For the current study, these outcome variables are of interest because of Evangelical Christianity's traditional gender role ideology and conservatism (Brinkerhoff & MacKie, 1985; Jensen & Jensen, 1993; Lehrer, 1995; Morgan, 1987; Rose, 1999; Smith, 1999) are two constructs that may contain values related to these outcome variables and possibly produce unique results in a female Evangelical Christian population. Specifically, Evangelical Christians not only glean spiritual wisdom from the Bible, but they also look to it for practical direction on topics such as gender role ideology. Mahoney et al. (1999); Mahoney, Carels et al. (2005); and Mahoney, Pargament et al. (2005) discovered that when religious individuals attribute spiritual significance to aspects of one's life (e.g., strivings, body, marriage), these areas become "sanctified" resulting in more positive attributions toward these aspects of one's life. Thus, considering the importance of the Bible to many Evangelical Christians, it is possible that outcomes related to gender role ideology may be uniquely influenced by participants' religious beliefs and biblical interpretations. While past studies suggest that the sanctification of a construct results in overwhelmingly positive outcomes with respect to that construct (Mahoney et al., 1999; Mahoney, Carels et al., 2005; Mahoney, Pargament et al., 2005), it is possible that a complex construct such as gender roles may be more nuanced in its relationship to outcome variables. For example, behavioral outcomes such as career aspirations are likely to be consistent with the endorsed biblical ideology, following the pattern found in existing research between career aspirations and gender role ideology (Cooper, Arkkelin, & Tiebert, 1994; Morinaga, Frieze, & Ferligoj, 1993; Rudman & Phelan, 2010). it is also likely that ideological outcomes such as sexism would reflect the relationships found for gender role ideology. However, for outcomes that are more affective and psychological in nature, such as positive and negative affect, satisfaction with life, self-silencing behaviors, self surveillance, and body shame, one might expect sanctification to have an ameliorating effect on the negative outcomes that might otherwise be expected given the existing literature on the relationship between gender role ideology and these outcomes.
The current study sought to investigate female Evangelical Christians' gender role ideology as it relates to their religious beliefs about gender. First, we explored the relationship between participants' biblical beliefs about gender and their gender role ideology. Specifically, it was hypothesized that there would be positive correlations between participants' biblical beliefs about gender and their gender role ideology.
Second, we explored participants' biblical beliefs about gender and gender role ideology as they related to outcomes. We predicted that behavioral or ideological outcomes--including career aspirations and sexism--would be consistent with the endorsed biblical ideology and gender role ideology, that is, more traditional gender role ideology would be negatively correlated with career aspirations and positively correlated with sexism. Additionally, in accordance with the literature on gender role ideology, we predicted that for outcomes that are more affective or psychological in nature (positive and negative affect, satisfaction with life, self-silencing behaviors, self surveillance, and body shame), negative outcomes (negative affect, self-silencing, self-surveillance, and body shame) would be positively related to traditional gender role ideology and hierarchical biblical beliefs and the positive outcomes (positive affect and satisfaction with life) would be negatively related to traditional gender role ideology and hierarchical biblical beliefs.
Third, we investigated whether the relationship between the outcomes and gender role ideology would be moderated by participants' biblical beliefs about gender. Given existing research on sanctification, it was hypothesized that the relationship between gender role ideology and the outcomes would be moderated by participants' biblical beliefs about gender. Specifically, it was predicted that the expected negative outcomes of holding to traditional gender role ideology (higher negative affect, self-silencing behaviors, self-surveillance, body shame, and lower positive affect and satisfaction with life) would be ameliorated in women who were also high in hierarchical biblical beliefs about gender.
Three hundred and forty female students from a private Evangelical university on the west coast were recruited for this study. of note, students at this university are required to sign a statement of faith resulting in a religiously homogeneous population. One hundred and fifty-three (45.1%) participants self-identified as European American, 85 (25.1%) as Asian/Asian American, 48 (14.1%) as Hispanic/Latino/Latina, 11 (3.2%) as African American, 10 (2.9%) as Other, and 30 (8.8%) as Mixed Ethnicity. Participants ranged in age from 18-53 with a mean age of 19.47 (SD = 3.01). One hundred and fifty-five (45%) of participants were freshmen, 71 (21%) sophomores, 48 (14.1%) juniors, 55 (16.2%) seniors, and 11 (3.2%) were taking a fifth year. Three hundred and thirty-six (98%) of participants were single and 4 (1.2%) were married, with no participants identifying as divorced. Participants were recruited from an introduction to Psychology course and from upper level psychology courses and were awarded either class credit or extra credit for their participation in the study. Data were collected through an online survey.
Traditional/Egalitarian Sex Role Scale.
Endorsement of traditional or egalitarian ideology regarding gender roles was measured by Larsen and Long's (1988) Traditional/Egalitarian Sex Role Scale. This measure consists of twenty items to which participants respond on a five-point Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). As originally constructed, a high score indicated egalitarian gender role ideology and a low score indicated traditional gender role ideology. However, for the current study, this variable was transformed so that a high score indicates traditional gender role ideology for ease of interpretation in comparing scores with the Biblical Beliefs Scale. Scores are calculated by averaging item responses, with scores ranging from 1-5. Examples of items include, "Ultimately a woman should submit to her husband's decision," "Having a job is just as important for a wife as it is for her husband" (reversed), and "Men make better leaders." The internal consistency reliability of this measure is acceptable ([alpha] = .85). In the present study, the alpha coefficient was .83. Alpha levels for all scales can be found in Table 1.
Biblical Beliefs Scale. Participants' endorsement of biblical beliefs regarding gender roles was measured by the Biblical Beliefs Scale (Hall, Cunningham, & Christerson, 2008). This is a one-item measure which assesses participants' biblical beliefs regarding gender roles. This item asks participants to choose one of five provided statements regarding gender roles that most closely resembles his or her own perspective. These statements range from egalitarian beliefs ("The Bible places no restrictions on women's roles. All positions of leadership in the home, church, and society are equally open to all qualified men and women. We are morally obligated to promote women at every opportunity to correct for biases in our society that disadvantage women") to hierarchical beliefs ("Women should function under male authority and be in submission in all areas of life, including in general society [e.g., employment, government] as well as home and church, because God has ordained such a structure"). low score of one indicates a more egalitarian belief while a score of five indicates more hierarchical beliefs. Internal consistency reliability of this measure is not reported because this questionnaire consists of only one item.
Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. Endorsement of ambivalent sexism was measured by Glick and Fiske's (1996) Ambivalent Sexism Inventory. This measure is a 22-item questionnaire that assesses beliefs and attitudes toward benevolent and hostile sexism. Participants respond to items on a scale from 0 (disagree strongly) to 5 (agree strongly). Items measuring hostile sexism include statements such as "Women are too easily offended," "Feminists are seeking for women to have more power than men," and "Most women fail to appreciate fully all that men do for them." Items assessing benevolent sexism encompass three subscales, including protective paternalism, complementary gender differentiation, and heterosexual intimacy. Items measuring protective paternalism include statements such as "A good woman should be set on a pedestal by her man" and "Women should be cherished and protected by men." Examples of items measuring complementary gender differentiation include, "Women, compared to men, tend to have a more refined sense of culture and good taste" and "Many women have a quality of purity that few men possess." Finally, items measuring heterosexual intimacy include items such as "Every man ought to have a woman whom he adores" and "Men are complete without women" (reverse scored). Scores are calculated for both the hostile and benevolent subscales by finding the mean of items for both scales; subscale scores for benevolent sexism are calculated in the same way. A high score indicates endorsement of sexism, and scores range from 0 to 5. The internal consistency reliability of the ASI is acceptable with alphas for both overall scores and subscale scores in the .8-.9 range. In the present study, the full scale alpha coefficient was .83, the benevolent subscale was .73, and the hostile subscalewas .83.
Silencing the Self Scale. Participants' self-silencing behaviors were assessed by the Silencing the Self Scale (Jack & Dill, 1992). This is a 31-item measure that participants respond to on a five-point Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Scores range from 1-5 and are calculated by averaging item responses, with a high score indicating high self-silencing behaviors. Examples of items include, "I don't speak my feelings in an intimate relationship when I know they will cause disagreement," and "Caring means putting the other person's needs in front of my own." The internal consistency reliability of this measure is acceptable ([alpha] = .86). The alpha coefficient in the present study was .83.
Career Aspirations Scale. Participants' endorsement of career aspirations was measured by Gray and O'Brien's (2007) Career Aspirations Scale. This measure consists of eight items rated on a five-point Likert scale from 0 (not at all true of me) to 5 (very true of me). Scores are calculated by averaging item responses, with a higher score indicating greater aspiration in a given career. Scores range from 0 to 5. Examples of items include, "When I am established in my career, I would like to manage other employees," "Attaining leadership status in my career is not that important to me" (reverse), and "I think I would like to pursue graduate training in my occupational area of interest." The internal consistency reliability of this measure is acceptable ([alpha] = .73-.77). In the present study, the alpha coefficient was .76.
Surveillance and Shame Subscales of the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale. Participants' endorsement of self objectification was measured by the Surveillance and Shame subscales of the Objectified Body Consciousness Scale (McKinley & Hyde, 1996). The Surveillance and Shame subscales each consist of eight items that participants respond to on a six-point Likert scale from 1 (strongly disagree) to 6 (strongly agree). Scores are calculated by averaging items. Scores for each scale range from 1 to 6. For the Surveillance subscale, a high score indicates a person who watches her body frequently and thinks of it in terms of how it looks rather than how it feels. For the Shame subscale, a high score indicates a person who believes she is a bad person if she does not fulfill cultural expectations for her body. The Surveillance subscale includes items such as "During the day, I think about how I look many times," and "I often worry about whether the clothes I am wearing make me look good." The Shame subscale includes items such as "When I can't control my weight, I feel like something must be wrong with me," and "I feel like I must be a bad person when I don't look as good as I could." The internal consistency reliability for both of the subscales is acceptable (Surveillance [alpha] = .79, Shame [alpha] = .85). In the present study, the alpha coefficient for the Surveillance subscale was .83 and .84 for the Shame subscale.
Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. The Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson & Clark, 1994; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988) consists of 20 items that participants respond to on a five-point Likert scale from 1 (very slightly or not at all) to 5 (extremely), with 3 indicating moderately. Each item consists of a positive affect word (PA) such as "excited" or "interested" (10 items) or a negative affect word (NA) such as "distressed" or "upset" (10 items). Responses are averaged to produce positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) scores. High scores on the PA subscale indicate greater positive affect whereas high scores on the NA subscale indicate greater negative affect. Possible scores on each subscale range from 1 to 5. This measure has acceptable internal consistency reliability (PA [alpha] = .84-.90, NA [alpha] = .85-.87). In the present study, the alpha coefficients were .84 (PA) and .83 (NA).
Satisfaction With Life Scale. The Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larson, & Griffin, 1985) consists of five items that participants respond to on a seven-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 7 (strongly agree), with 4 indicating neither agree nor disagree. Scores (range of 1 to 7) are calculated by averaging items, with a high score indicating greater satisfaction with life. Examples of items include "in most ways my life is close to my ideal," and "So far I have gotten the important things I want in life." The internal consistency reliability for this measure is adequate ([alpha] = .80; Pavot & Diener, 1993). In the present study, the alpha coefficient was .84.
Data were analyzed using SPSS. The original non-transformed means and standard deviations for all measures are shown in Table 1. All measures were assessed for normality and homoscedasticity. The Career Aspirations Scale was found to be negatively skewed. Before any transformations were conducted, this measure was reflected by subtracting the mean of each score from the highest score attained, plus one. This reflected the data so that they became positively skewed and thus able to be transformed. it should be noted, however, that reflecting the data in this way changed the meaning of the scores for this measure. in order to avoid confusion when interpreting results, the scores for this measure were re-reflected after being transformed. Square root transformations corrected the scale. The transformed and re-reflected scores for this measure were utilized in all subsequent analyses.
Gender Role Ideology and Religious Beliefs About Gender
Based on the reviewed literature suggesting a relationship between religion and conservative gender role ideology, it was hypothesized that participants who had more traditional gender role ideology would have more hierarchical religious beliefs about gender. Zero order, one-tailed correlations were run to test this hypothesis and all other correlational hypotheses. Confirming this hypothesis, gender role ideology had a significant moderate positive relationship with religious beliefs about gender (r = .44, p < .001).
Gender Role Ideology, Biblical Beliefs About Gender, and Outcomes
It was also hypothesized that women's gender role ideology would be negatively correlated with career aspirations, satisfaction with life, and positive affect (Table 2). Confirming the hypotheses, results indicated that the more traditional the gender role ideology, the lower the career aspirations (r = -.20, p < .01). However, gender role ideology was not significantly related to satisfaction with life (r = .06, p > .05) or positive affect (r = .01, p > .05). It was also hypothesized that women's gender role ideology would be positively correlated with self-surveillance, body shame, self-silencing behaviors, negative affect, and sexism. This hypothesis was partially confirmed in that women's gender role ideology had a small positive relationship with body shame (r = .11, p < .05) and self-silencing behaviors (r = .13, p < .01) as well as moderate to large relationships with hostile sexism (r = .52, p < .001) and benevolent sexism at both the overall level (r = .32, p < .001) and subscale level (protective paternalism: r = .32, p < .001; complementary gender differentiation: r = .20, p < .001; heterosexual intimacy: r = .20, p < .001). Gender role ideology was not significantly related to self surveillance (r = .06, p > .05) or negative affect (r = .01, p > .05).
We predicted that biblical beliefs about gender would be negatively related to career aspirations, positive affect, and satisfaction with life. Although biblical beliefs about gender were negatively related to career aspirations (r = -.11, p < .05), the other two correlations were not significant (positive affect: r = -.02, p > .05; satisfaction with life: r = .03, p > .05). It was also predicted that biblical beliefs about gender would be positively related to self-silencing behaviors, self-surveillance, body shame, negative affect, and sexism (Table 2). Results indicated that biblical beliefs about gender were not related to self-silencing behaviors (r = .01, p > .05), body surveillance (r = .04, p > .05), body shame (r = .03, p > .05), or negative affect (r = -.06, p > .05). Regarding sexism, biblical beliefs about gender were significantly positively related to hostile sexism (r = .32, p < .01) but not to benevolent sexism (r = .06, p >.05). However, at the benevolent sexism subscale level, biblical beliefs about gender were significantly positively related to Protective Paternalism (r = .14, p < .01) but not to Complementary Gender Differentiation (r = -.04, p > .05) or Heterosexual Intimacy (r = .04, p > .05). Of note, regressions with both biblical beliefs regarding gender and gender role ideology were also run to assess their joint relationship to the outcomes; however, due to multicollinearity these regressions were unable to be estimated.
It was also hypothesized that the relationship between gender role ideology and outcomes would be moderated by participants' biblical beliefs about gender. Moderations were run using Hayes' PROCESS macro for SPSS (model 1 = simple moderation). The results indicated that participants' biblical beliefs about gender did not moderate the relationship between gender role ideology and body shame (F[1, 335] = .01, p >.05), body surveillance (F[1, 335] = .08, p >.05), positive affect (F[1, 335] = .16, p >.05), satisfaction with life (F[1, 335] = .21, p >.05), career aspirations (F[1, 335] = 1.45, p >.05), or self-silencing (F[1, 335] = 2.12, p >.05). However, biblical beliefs moderated the relationship between gender role ideology and negative affect (F[1, 335] = 7.48, p < .01; Figure 1). Specifically, there was a crossover effect for negative affect, such that for participants with less egalitarian biblical beliefs, those with more traditional gender role ideology had more negative affect than those with more equitable gender role ideology. In contrast, for participants with more egalitarian biblical beliefs, those with more traditional gender role ideology had lower negative affect than those with more equitable gender role ideology.
The current study sought to explore female Evangelical Christians' gender role ideology as it relates to their religious beliefs about gender and to outcomes. While a number of studies have documented the relationship between Christianity and both gender role ideology and practice (Ali et al., 2008; Colaner & Warner, 2005; Colaner & Giles, 2008), this study supplies further information regarding how gender role ideology is related to religious beliefs about gender. Additionally, while past studies have considered gender role ideology as it relates to religious affiliation (Ali et al., 2008), few studies have explored the importance of internalized religious beliefs as they relate to gender as well as outcomes that may result from these internalized religious beliefs.
Findings from this study indicate that participants who had more traditional gender role ideology also had more traditional religious beliefs about gender. While gender role ideology and religious beliefs surrounding gender are separate, the two constructs are united in their emphasis on the level of equality and degree of bifurcation of roles between men and women. The correlation between these variables suggests an overlap between these constructs. However, in the current study, the correlation between religious beliefs about gender and gender role ideology was only moderate. Notably, as mentioned above, a previous qualitative study found some differences between these two constructs (Gallagher & Smith, 1999), with participants expressing greater conservativeness in their religious beliefs about gender than were evident in their gender role beliefs. These findings support the suggestion that religious beliefs about gender and gender role ideology are related but separate constructs.
Regarding the relationship between gender role ideology and the outcome measures, results indicated that gender role ideology was negatively related to career aspirations and positively related to body shame, self-silencing behaviors, and sexism at the overall and subscale level. These results suggest that the more traditional the gender role ideology, the less likely women were to aspire to have a career, and the more likely they were to feel shame about their control of their body, to self-silence, and have sexist beliefs. The results also indicated a relationship between gender role ideology and negative affect, although this relationship is complex and will be discussed below. These results indicate that more traditional gender role ideology does appear to translate into specific behavioral outcomes reflecting greater gender differentiation, such as decreased career aspirations. The results also reflect attempts to conform to these gendered expectations. Self-silencing may reflect an emphasis on submission, and shame about the ability to control the body may reflect an emphasis on women's sexual and reproductive functions. Finally, it appears that traditional gender role ideology is consistent with both hostile and benevolent sexist ideology.
Regarding the relationship between biblical beliefs about gender and the outcomes, it appears that hierarchical beliefs about gender were positively related to career aspirations as well as hostile sexism and the Protective Paternalism subscale of benevolent sexism. These results indicate that more hierarchical biblical beliefs about gender appear to translate into specific behavioral outcomes reflecting greater gender differentiation, such as decreased career aspirations. Additionally, these results suggest that one's religious beliefs translate to consistent beliefs about sexism. of note, of the three benevolent sexism subscales, Protective Paternalism was the only subscale that had a significant relationship with hierarchical biblical beliefs about gender, suggesting that this aspect of benevolent sexism may be particularly integral to a hierarchical biblical belief system. This finding is significant in that it exhibits both a possible etiology of sexism and gender roles as well as suggests the primary focus (hostile sexism and Protective Paternalism) for addressing sexism concerns within an Evangelical Christian population.
Finally, comparing the relationships between the outcomes and biblical beliefs regarding gender as well as gender role ideology, it should be noted that the pattern of relationships between these two constructs and the outcome measures differ. Specifically, biblical beliefs about gender and gender role ideology differ in their relationships with body shame, career aspirations, self-silencing behaviors, negative affect, and sexism. overall, the pattern of relationships indicates that gender role ideology is related to more outcomes than are biblical beliefs about gender, suggesting that the cultural influence on gender roles (gender role ideology) may be more powerful in influencing outcomes than the religious influence (biblical beliefs about gender). This again suggests the importance of viewing these two constructs as related but separate.
Of note, there were a number of insignificant relationships between the outcomes and both biblical beliefs about gender and gender role ideology. Specifically, both constructs had no significant relationship with satisfaction with life, positive affect, self-surveillance, or negative affect. It is likely that in a largely unmarried, young adult sample, gender roles and their biblical basis may have less immediate ramifications and subsequent relevance in this stage of life. As such, the constructs mentioned above that capture one's general life satisfaction and affective experience may be less influenced by gender role ideology and biblical beliefs regarding gender. Additionally, biblical beliefs regarding gender were unrelated to all aspects of benevolent sexism besides protective paternalism, whereas gender role ideology exhibited significant relationships with all subscales of benevolent sexism. This suggests that only a portion of female Evangelicals' sexism may stem from biblical beliefs regarding gender and may be better accounted for by cultural influences espousing sexism that impact gender role ideology.
Given findings about the effect of sanctification on strivings, body, and marriage (Mahoney et al., 1999; Mahoney, Carels et al., 2005, Mahoney, Pargament et al., 2005), we hypothesized that biblical beliefs about gender would moderate the relationship between participants' gender role ideology and the outcome measures, particularly for the outcomes that were affective and psychological in nature. Results indicated that the biblical beliefs scale moderated the relationship between gender role ideology and negative affect. Specifically, there was a crossover effect for negative affect, such that for participants with less egalitarian biblical beliefs and those with more traditional gender role ideology had more negative affect than those with more equitable gender role ideology. In contrast, for participants with more egalitarian biblical beliefs, those with more traditional gender role ideology had lower negative affect than those with more equitable gender role ideology. It is possible that while the women with less egalitarian biblical beliefs and more traditional gender role ideology had consistency in their beliefs and behaviors, they experienced greater negative affect because of the inequitable nature of traditional gender roles. In contrast, the women with more egalitarian biblical beliefs and more traditional gender role beliefs may have experienced lower negative affect compared to those with consistently equitable gender role ideology as a result of conforming to traditional Evangelical gender standards of behavior which may have lessened the out-group experience of holding egalitarian biblical beliefs. These results suggest an additional variable that may be of importance in future studies on this topic: fit with the surrounding social context.
There were several limitations in this study. First, all data were collected at one Christian university, limiting both the age range and location of participants. Second, the population was largely European American and from the western United States. As a result, this study should be replicated in more diverse samples. Third, this study was correlational in nature, thus limiting the ability to draw causal conclusions. Fourth, the Traditional/Egalitarian Sex Role Scale possessed a number of items addressing gender roles in a marital context. Because this sample was largely unmarried, results may have been influenced. Future research might continue this line of research by using other methods which may better capture the nuances within the Evangelical Christian community surrounding gender role ideology and religious beliefs about gender roles. Specifically, qualitative methods may better capture the lived experience of these constructs in this population.
The results of this study hold important implications for those working with or researching Evangelical Christian populations. Specifically, the results of this study suggest a clear positive relationship between traditional gender role ideology and hierarchical religious beliefs regarding gender. While some within Evangelical Christianity hold to equitable gender role ideology, many within Evangelical Christianity lean toward endorsement of traditional gender roles and hierarchical religious beliefs and interpretations of biblical passages. Understanding the relationship between religious beliefs and gender role ideology will help those working with this community to dialogue about these issues with more ease as well as have better knowledge of how to address this topic and help others when issues surrounding gender roles arise. For example, those who work with Evangelical Christian couples may find it beneficial to discuss both biblical beliefs regarding gender and gender role ideology in the context of marital or pre-marital therapy when issues around gender roles may arise.
This study also holds important implications for the study of religious beliefs and gender role ideology. The results of this study indicated that while religious beliefs regarding gender roles and gender role ideology are positively correlated, this relationship is only moderate. This finding stands in contrast to previous literature which conceptualized and thus measured religious beliefs regarding gender and gender role ideology as not only similar constructs but as the same construct. in the current study, the differentiation of these constructs was further supported by the fact that religious beliefs regarding gender and gender role ideology had different outcomes and combined in ways that predicted unique variance. These findings indicate the importance of treating these two constructs as separate in future research that seeks to understand gender role ideology as they relate to and differ from religious beliefs on gender.
In conclusion, this study contributes to the existing body of research regarding Evangelical Christians' gender role ideology and religious beliefs about gender. Additionally, this study expands current literature by exploring outcome measures as they relate to gender role ideology and religious beliefs. Finally, this study suggests that the relationship between Evangelical Christians' religious beliefs and gender role ideology is a complex relationship that has yet to be fully captured and requires further exploration. Continued exploration of these constructs will hopefully lend itself to increased understanding of the phenomenon, leading to a greater capacity for education as well as the ability to address these constructs at the systemic level.
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Kristen Davis Eliason
M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall
Kristen Davis Eliason (M.A. in Clinical Psychology, Rosemead School of Psychology) is a doctoral candidate at Rosemead School of Psychology. Kristen's research interests include sexism, gender roles, and their relationship with religion.
M. Elizabeth Lewis Hall (Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Rosemead School of Psychology) is Professor of Psychology at Biola University (CA). Dr. Hall's research interests include women and work, mothering, missions and mental health, embodiment, and suffering.
Tamara L. Anderson (Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles) is Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of Graduate Students at Rosemead School of Psychology, Biola University (CA). Dr. Anderson's research interests include gender issues, attachment, ethics and law, conflict resolution, in addition to previous work in the area of eating disorders.
Michele M. Willingham (Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, California School of Professional Psychology, Los Angeles) is Internship Training Director at the Biola Counseling Center, Biola University (CA). Dr. Willingham's research interests include gender and diversity issues; clinician self-care, professional identity development and spiritual integration in clinical training and supervision; and college mental health.
Please address correspondence regarding this article to Kristen Davis Eliason; email@example.com
Caption: Figure 1. Moderation of Sex Roles and Negative Affect by Biblical Beliefs
Table 1 Means, Standard Deviations, and Alphas for all Measures Measure M SD a Traditional/Egalitarian Sex Role Scale 3.75 .53 .83 Biblical Beliefs Scale 2.76 .99 NA Ambivalent Sexism Full Scale 3.48 .82 .83 Ambivalent Sexism-Hostile Subscale 3.37 .82 .83 Ambivalent Sexism-Benevolent Sub-scale 3.59 .72 .73 Ambivalent Sexism-Protective 3.97 .76 .40 Paternalism Ambivalent Sexism-Complementary Gender Diff. 3.31 1.02 .55 Ambivalent Sexism-Heterosexual Intimacy 3.42 1.08 .69 Silencing the Self Scale 2.86 .47 .83 Career Aspirations Scale 3.89 .66 .76 Objectified Body Consciousness-Shame Subscale 2.99 1.06 .84 Objectified Body Consciousness-Surveillance Subscale 4.12 .88 .83 PANAS-Positive 3.20 .71 .84 PANAS-Negative 2.52 .78 .83 Satisfaction With Life Scale 4.66 1.21 .84 Table 2 Correlations Between Sex Roles Scale, Biblical Beliefs Scale, and Outcome Measures Measures 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 1. SexR -- -- -- -- -- -- 2. BB .44 *** -- -- -- -- -- 3. Silence .13 ** -.01 -- -- -- -- 4. Career -.20 * -.11 * -.26 *** -- -- -- 5. Surv .06 .04 .16 ** .06 -- -- 6. Shame .11 * .03 .30 *** .01 .46 *** -- 7. PosAf .01 -.02 -.18 *** .18 *** -.15 ** -.13 ** 8. NegAf .01 -.06 31 *** -.11 * .12 * .23 *** 9. SatWL .06 .03 -.25 *** .15 ** -.22 *** 10. ASI-H .52 *** .32 *** .13 ** -.04 -.02 .07 11. ASI-B .32 *** .06 .02 .16 .08 .04 12. PP .32 *** .14 ** -.03 .15 ** .08 .02 13. CGD 2Q *** -.04 .09 .07 -.01 -.03 14. HI 2Q *** .04 -.01 .13 ** .10 * .08 Measures 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 1. SexR -- -- -- -- -- -- 2. BB -- -- -- -- -- -- 3. Silence -- -- -- -- -- -- 4. Career -- -- -- -- -- -- 5. Surv -- -- -- -- -- -- 6. Shame -- -- -- -- -- -- 7. PosAf -- -- -- -- -- -- 8. NegAf -.15 ** -- -- -- -- -- 9. SatWL .42 *** -.32 *** -- -- -- -- 10. ASI-H .04 .03 .06 -- -- -- 11. ASI-B .11 * .02 -.01 .36 *** -- -- 12. PP -.07 .04 .05 29 *** .68 ** -- 13. CGD .17 ** -.02 .08 .23 *** 31 *** 14. HI .02 .01 -.11 * 28 *** .83 *** .32 *** Measures 13. 14. 1. SexR -- -- 2. BB -- -- 3. Silence -- -- 4. Career -- -- 5. Surv -- -- 6. Shame -- -- 7. PosAf -- -- 8. NegAf -- -- 9. SatWL -- -- 10. ASI-H -- -- 11. ASI-B -- -- 12. PP -- -- 13. CGD -- -- 14. HI .40 *** -- Note. SexR = Sex Role Scale; BB = Biblical Beliefs; Silenc = Self-Silencing Scale; Career = Career Aspirations; Surv = Objectified Body Consciousness Surveil-lance Subscale; Shame = Objectified Body Consciousness Shame Subscale; PosAf = Positive and Negative Affect Scale, Positive Subscale; NegAf = Positive and Negative Affect Scale, Negative Subscale; SatWL = Satisfaction With Life Scale; ASI-H = Ambivalent Sexism Hostile Subscale; ASI-B = Ambivalent Sexism Benev-olent Subscale; PP = Benevolent Sexism Subscale Protective Paternalism; CGD = Benevolent Sexism Subscale Complementary Gender Differentiation; HI = Benevolent Sexism Subscale Heterosexual Intimacy. * p< .05, ** p< .01, *** p< .001.
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|Author:||Eliason, Kristen Davis; Hall, M. Elizabeth Lewis; Anderson, Tamara; Willingham, Michele|
|Publication:||Journal of Psychology and Christianity|
|Date:||Mar 22, 2017|
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