Social science perspectives on gender and Mormon orthodoxy

Authored by: Jana Riess , Benjamin Knoll

The Routledge Handbook of Mormonism and Gender

Print publication date:  May  2020
Online publication date:  April  2020

Print ISBN: 9780815395218
eBook ISBN: 9781351181600
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter draws attention to gender as an important category in social science research on Mormonism. Drawing upon data from the 2016 Next Mormons Survey as well as research from Pew and other studies, Jana Riess and Benjamin Knoll position Mormon women in comparison to Mormon men and also other women in America. In general, Mormon women are more likely to be white, heterosexual, and married compared to other U.S. women, and less likely to work full-time. Educationally, compared to Mormon men, they are more likely to begin a college degree, but less likely to finish one, particularly if they live in Utah. The authors then demonstrate that Latter-day Saint women excel in both of the traditional sociological categories of “believing” and “behaving.” In terms of believing, they score higher on indices of belief orthodoxy than LDS men do. They profess a higher degree of theological certainty about key doctrines of the Church and report somewhat higher levels of closeness to God. They are more observant about the Word of Wisdom (the Church’s dietary code), and more likely to avoid violent or sexually explicit media. In the final section, the authors offer several possible reasons for Mormon women’s higher levels of orthodoxy and orthopraxy.

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