From a Washington Times article "Marriage as a Mormon value"
According to [the] Pew [Forum], Mormons have one of the most lopsided gender ratios of any religion: 44 percent men and 56 percent women.
You can't argue with the gender gap -- that's what the data is. The question is why such a disproportional gender gap emerges in the LDS Church. [And let's just take it for granted it's not because the researchers just forgot to factor in all those absent 19-to-21-year-old men off serving missions.]
One set of possible explanations centers on the men. It could be that the high-and-getting-higher expectations focused on young LDS men drives some of them away. It could be that the LDS cultural focus on family and responsibility and work is unappealing to the slacker male twenty-somethings we're hearing so much about these days. It could be that the current feelings-based approach to LDS worship just doens't work for some LDS guys. And just where have all these missing LDS men gone?
A second set of possible explanations centers on the women. What is it they like so much about LDS church activity? One obvious item is how sin has increasingly been redefined as applying almost exclusively to men. Who wouldn't be happy with a church that tells you sin is some other gender's problem, not yours? Recall the explosive reaction to Julie B. Beck's Women Who Know talk: how dare she suggest that saintly LDS women might have flaws? Another would be the fact that the burdens of local church administration fall largely on the men, while declining family size has eased domestic burdens on LDS women.
I suspect some people don't like these possible explanations. Do you have alternative explanations for the unusually large Mormon gender gap? At the very least, it should be a wake-up call to those LDS feminists who depict LDS women as some sort of oppressed underclass in a patriarchal institution. The data tell the opposite story: the women are quite happy while the men are voting with their feet. What LDS feminists need to explain is why women are so happy with the LDS Church.
Related posts on this topic:
- Church Ladies, a WSJ opinion piece.
- In defense of the Pew survey at Juvenile Instructor, with some nice observations on the gender gap.
Originally posted with comments at Beliefnet.