Effects of social status, religion, and secularization on attitudes toward gender equality among Iranians
Despite efforts to achieve gender equality, women are under-represented and have fewer opportunities than men worldwide. Additionally, there is a disagreement between the West and the Islamic world over gender equality, which is viewed differently in different countries. This study used empirical evidence and theories to provide a better understanding of the attitudes toward gender equality in Iran. This study examined whether social status factors, religious/spiritual involvement, and secularization affect attitudes toward gender equality in employment, education, and politics. It also assessed whether gender had a moderating role in the associations between these three sets of factors and the attitudes toward gender equality. Feminist standpoint theory and Davis and Robinson’s model of consciousness served as the theoretical framework of this study. Feminist standpoint theory refers to the collective consciousness of women as a subordinate group. Further, Davis and Robinson’s model of consciousness suggests that gender inequality makes subordinate groups aware of their disadvantages and gain consciousness. I used data collected in Iran during Wave 7 of the World Values Survey that was conducted from 2017-2021. The final sample consisted of 1469 Iranians (716 men and 688 women) aged 18 years or older. Multiple regression and logistic regression models were developed to explain their attitudes toward gender equality in employment, education, and politics. The results of the study indicated that social status factors, religious/spiritual involvement, and secularization were associated with attitudes toward gender equality in employment, education, and politics. Some of these associations were in line with the literature, whereas others were unexpected. Women, educated, younger, unmarried, and secular individuals displayed more positive attitudes toward gender equality in employment, education, and politics. I also found evidence to show that gender had a moderating role in explaining the outcome variables’ associations. In line with our expectation, older respondents showed less support for gender equality in employment, and this relationship was stronger among women. Notably, respondents with higher income were less likely to support gender equality in education and politics, and these associations were stronger for female participants. Men and women showed distinct attitudes toward gender equality, which were explained by social mechanisms. The three factors affected gender differently. Finally, the results of this study provide implications for future research in the area of gender equality in Iran.