Do values explain the low employment levels of Muslim women around the world? A within- and between-country analysis

Eman Abdelhadi, Paula England

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    Using worldwide data from the World Values Survey (WVS) gathered in 2010–2014, we examine two distinct ways in which Islam may be associated with women's employment. We show that, within their countries, Muslim women are less likely to be employed than women of other religions. We also examine between-country differences and find that, net of education and family statuses, the employment levels of women living in countries that are 90–100 per cent Muslim are not significantly different than those living in countries that are only 0–20 per cent Muslim. Then we test a prevailing view: that Islam discourages gender egalitarian values, and that these values – held by women themselves or people around them – explain why Muslim women are less likely to be employed than women of other religions within their own countries. Despite the rich measures of values in the WVS and a large sample, we find no evidence that values explain any of the lower employment of Muslim women, mainly because values have little or no effect on women's employment. Thus, we conclude that most of the world's gap in employment between Muslim women and other women is within-country and is not explained by gender ideology. Future research should examine alternative hypotheses, including ethno-religious discrimination.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1510-1538
    Number of pages29
    JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
    Issue number4
    StatePublished - Sep 1 2019



    • Islam
    • Muslim women
    • Women's employment
    • gender
    • gender ideology
    • religion

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science

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