New Pew Study: Mormons Believe More Women in Workforce = Change for the Worse

Yesterday the Pew Research Center released its Religious Landscape Report entitled  “U.S. Public Becoming Less Religious.” For the first time, the survey included a question asking if participants felt that having more women in the workforce has been a change for the better or worse.

And the results:

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A majority of religious participants feel that more women in the workplace means changes for the better (hooray!). About half of American Mormons hold this same view. However, on the other end of the spectrum, one in four Mormons believe that more women in the workplace has been a change for the worse–more than any other religious group.

Although the results are perhaps unsurprising, they are disappointing particularly given that “LDS women are nearly on par with the national average (48 percent for LDS women vs. 52 percent nationally)…LDS women are as likely to work outside the home as non-LDS women, but they are significantly less likely to work full-time.” In the April 2015 General Conference, President Bonnie Oscarson declared, “We want to make sure that our daughters know that they have the potential to achieve and be whatever they can imagine. We hope they will love learning, be educated, talented, and maybe even become the next Marie Curie or Eliza R. Snow.” It is our hope that Latter-day Saints take this and similar counsel to heart and come to recognize the invaluable contributions women can and do make as participants in the workforce.

8 Comments on “New Pew Study: Mormons Believe More Women in Workforce = Change for the Worse

  1. Yeah, we came in first place!!

    When Evangelicals are in better shape than we are….sigh.

    I’d be interested to see this data broken down by both religious affiliation and gender – i.e. is it men within the Church driving these numbers, or is the sentiment shared across men & women?

  2. Seriously?!?!? A quarter of us think that we’d be better off with zero women doctors, zero women legislators and zero women business leaders? Are there really that many of us that want to go back to the days when half the population was absent from public life? Do people realize that global economics have changed and even a full reversion of women’s roles will not re-create the 1950s and 1960s?

    Why are we still so entrenched in this one ideal role for women that makes it so difficult for us raise girls as unique individuals?

    I don’t think the data break down will show a marked difference between the genders on this one. LDS women are definitely complicit in constraining themselves and their daughters.

    I think I already knew what this Pew study tells us, but it’s hard to see it quantified.

    So discouraged.


  3. It’s a poll. If I learned anything in 20 years in the research industry it that polling, in large part, sucks. And every year it sucks a bit more than the year before. Sampling bias and non-response bias are but two of the places that cause problems. A third is that people lie. I know, shocking.

    In a liberal society respondents tend to answer more liberally than they act. In a conservative society (Mormons were the most conservative respondents surveyed) they tend to answer more conservatively. I suspect the Mormon results are neither as “bad” nor the other results as “good” as reported for the working women question. Would that change the result? No, but it might make the differences less stark.

    I spent some time with all the released survey, not one isolated question. Some observations:

    A greater proportion of the Mormon sample was married and not just married but married with children and not just with children but with lots of children. No matter how the working women question is worded the possible interpretation for many would have been, “Would my kids be better off if I/my wife was working?” A clear answer for many if not most would have been, no, skewing the results.

    So too, the working women question was part of a randomized block of three questions. The other two were growing immigration and having children outside of marriage. Mormon respondents were far less approving of children outside of marriage than the norm. Half would have heard that question before the working woman question, coloring their response to the later question. It’d be interesting to see responses of just those seeing the working question before the out of wedlock question.

    Mormon respondents tended to be more conservative on a whole bevy of questions. No surprise. However, many of these questions are also asked in 2007 and, on the whole, Mormons are becoming more liberal on social issues over time. They are just doing it at a slower rate, so, while more liberal today than yesterday, they appear more conservative in comparison to others.

    It’d be interesting to see a cross-tab by geography to ferret out the Utah cultural influence.

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