Inequality between the sexes is often regarded as a salient characteristic of Muslim societies. Despite enormous public and academic interest in the possible relationship between religion and sex-based inequality, few works have systematically compared the status of women and girls in Muslim and non-Muslim communities. This research presentation examines the question of attitudes toward sex-based inequality using an experiment embedded in a cross-national public opinion survey.
The presentation will focus on findings from a national-level survey of Indonesia, but will also provide some comparative data from surveys in Jordan, Lebanon, and Uganda that demonstrate several broad conclusions. First, while we find meaningful variation in the levels of support for female empowerment across these countries, there is little support for the hypothesis that Muslims, in particular, hold attitudes favorable toward the unequal treatment of women. Second, we find that interaction with religious leaders and co-religionists does not have a perceivable effect on attitudes toward gender inequality. Third, we find that a respondent’s sex is a potentially strong predictor of attitudes toward gender inequality. The results of our investigation could have implications for a broad range of political outcomes, including social development, structural inequalities, and inter-confessional conflict.