I'm curious to hear anyone's thoughts on possible reasons WHY women seem to be such a minority in atheism. I'm a bit new to "social atheism" (I've been a quiet but not closeted, personal atheist for over half my life at this point), so I guess I'm only discovering this bias now.

I dislike the idea that "women are less rational than men." Or equally its reverse, that "women need the emotional satisfaction that can come from religion more than men." I'm not even a big fan of "women are more strongly social and may therefore be less likely to question the tenets of their social-support system, often known as a church", although it might be true.

Is it analogous to the situation where men have been at the forefront of computing, video games, and the internet, with women lagging behind? (And why did women lag in those areas, too?)

Is it possible that women are just less vocal about it, less likely to write books or start podcasts (or even join sites like this)?

What do you think? Favourite pet theory? Better yet, any actual research? ;)

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Replies to This Discussion

I find the inherent cost of this conversation is mixing how religious mores have "taught" women to be, versus how we evolved to be. I value evolution much more than I value cultural mores.

I was not raised in these religious mores, so I don't have this demureness you speak of. Something that is taught can be overcome. IMO it's important to not fall into the trap of : "well that's just how we are", it's not.

I find it interesting that as an atheist movement that seeks liberation of all humans, that we keep promoting that it's "just how we are". We need to overcome this and recognise that if women are in reduced numbers in the public atheist community, it's that there is a lot of belittling and sexualisation of women in the "new atheism".  This is not so prevalent on this site, but it is very present on other sites.

The new atheism (WASP without the P add the M for male) has reached a market of very angry imperialist males. It's how the new atheism is packaged. But it's not always how atheists were. This male top down attitude has only been in the atheist movement since certain recent popular atheist authors have changed the game. Personally, I'd rather we look toward other icons. We females CAN change and empower ourselves to define an atheist community that is more welcoming.

It's not logical at all. Us vaginas have been conditioned by society to behave that way. There is no realism to "spirituality" than there is to gods. And it really annoys me that us atheists can continue to propagate these patriarchal memes!

And we are not "very rare", we're only slightly less atheist than penises.

Where we're rare is here in the patriarchal old white brotherhood of this atheist movement. Us vagina inferior beings (according to religion) have not yet broken through here. The males of the movement pay lip service to female equality, but there is still a long way to go. Males have a certain imperialism and competivism that many females find annoying.

I was also raised watching animal shows, today it's Cesar Millan, and living in nature, 80% of my youth nutrition did not come from the grocery store, so my take on naturalism is that nature is all, but I was raised godless and faithless, thank god!

This is a terrific post - with lots of good thoughts going into the post and the comments.  I have an example which may or may not be relevant to the conversation.

I live in Texas, where being a liberal atheist female can, on any given occasion, actually be physically dangerous.  I am not speaking of atheist men, per se. 

I believe atheist and liberal are the two most dangerous identifiers in conservative (read patriarchal) places, of which there are many, in this country.  In my experience, males and females will become overly aggressive if they are "anti-" either of these two world views. 

My car, on the left side of the rear window, has bumper stickers with my liberal beliefs.  On the right are my atheist feminist beliefs (Eve was framed).  I am definitely out to spark controversy and/or conversation.  My hope is the conversation is in the car behind me, but I am willing to discuss my beliefs at a stop light if necessary.  This being said, I was followed into my neighborhood grocery store - in San Antonio - by a husband and wife.  The husband had no problem at all putting his hand on me by tapping me on the shoulder as I was getting my cart.  There were two or three other women standing in the same spot more or less.  He then proceded to tell me quite loudly and forcefully why my beliefs were incorrect and his were correct.  I actually looked to the other women for at least "facial" support - and there was absolutely none.  I was actually trembling because I was most definitely in public and was obviously not going to get any help or support.  My point is, I was physically afraid of this man.

The end of the story - I went back home very quickly and explained what had just happened to my athiest husband who said, "If you are going to go against the grain, expect to get splinters".  I almost slapped him, for not understanding the physical fear and danger to women whether they are in public or not; including in the public eye.

My son has driven my car and at times has had someone pull up beside him, thinking there was a woman driver he assures me, realizes it's a male, and quickly roll their window back up and look forward.

It is the "patriarchal right" to put women in "their place".  That's my hypothesis, and I'm sticking to it!

I would love to read more in our discussion...PS...Godless Bitches is a great podcast!

Women have more to benefit from joining a church than joining an atheist group.   Where are all the atheist daycares?  Food delivery services when you have just given birth?  Driving assistance for your elderly mother?

Women are still the primary child care providers in a household and women are more likely to care for elderly family members.  Religious institutions are very good at organizing the type of support that lessens the burden of "caretaking"--daycaes (free), schools, community visits to your elderly parents, chaperoned outings for your teenage kids.  A loyalty is created when you help someone with the ones they love--churches provide this support and they get loyalty in return from legions of women who benefit from these services.

 

Create an Atheist or Critical Thinking institution that has bake offs, craft fairs, gardening groups who provide day cares and elderly assistance....you will see a lot more Women joining.

You might be right - turning atheist was easy, but finding out that my whole xtian social network had disappeared overnight was really hard and it cost me years to build a replacement. Loyalty is created when you help someone, I think that is true, but it doesn't work for religious people. They only have loyalty for each other.

IMO there is something that can shed a some light on things...

This idea that church is a social network always riled me up a bit. Churches do charity work and networking as a MARKETING ploy in order to increase their numbers. It is a form of proselytizing in and of itself.

What people call "networking" through churches is in fact a just a big illusion. One can "network" at any number of social/art/culture/sporting events. Big cities have so many opportunities it's not even funny. But in smaller cities, such as mine at 20,000, there is something or other on about 6 evenings a week, plus weekend days. Half of all possibilities are free, the other half of all the possibilities price could be an excuse, however, if you're poor like me, most public events make use of volunteers, so I volunteer everywhere, and get all my outings, art and culture, for free, in exchange for a little bit of time. The village I grew up in had only 2000 people. I was in the figure skating club, the scouts, the 4H, all these were run by a 'network' of socially engaged adults.

So in the end, the concept of church as THE network is but another piece of the indoctrination brain wash. It's entirely as easy to network in any number of other areas.

Where the church is different is that when a church 'networks' to you, it panders and coddles, and people get addicted to this, even though it's not honest.

I acknowledge that leaving that network was difficult, as is quitting any drug. But the purpose these patriarchal religions was in great part a political tool for males to control females, by removing female thoughts and input from all decision making processes. So yes, females are more dominated by the enslavement that was designed to enslave us. But it's not our NATURE, it is what was imposed upon us, in the past couple of thousand years only, and it can be unlearned. It not not an evolutionary fact.

This is the message that we need to carry: "friendship offered by church is dishonest, free yourself". The church's dishonesty is the strongest tool we have.

For the past few months I've participated in the SSU at my university. I'm happy to report that, at least in that club, there's a pretty even distribution though at some meetings the women out number the men. Right now more of the officers are female, as is the club president. I've also noticed that when we table, we get a lot of interest from women. It seems more so when the only people tabling are women. Which, considering the group, happens without anyone thinking about it. The club even came together to deal with some sexist posters that went up on campus, and we're joining another group to march with the FSM in the pride parade this weekend.  It's been really refreshing after hearing about some of the internet/convention harassment that goes on.

So as to the OP, I'm not really sure what I think. It could be a matter of seeing what looks like a boy's club/ not wanting to have to fight the same battles women have in the past -- which is unfortunately what I see the internet putting out there about our community. I'd need to actually do my homework, and look at some research before I can really say.

Okay, here's a thought. As a woman - who grew up in the home of a mentally-ill single-mother (I had half a parent instead of two) I was too busy getting myself an education and trying to figure out how to have the children I wanted and still have a career (the career has dwindled). I haven't had time to delve into stuff like this.

So my point is maybe some of us have been too busy not reaping the benefits of being the dominant gender.


Another possibility is that the majority of women have simply fallen into the distraction that has been marketed to us since marketing was born. 

I'm of the opinion of your last line :)
Most of us have grown up in front of a television, with religious parenting, in a religious community. THAT is who we are, changes later in life are rarely all encompassing. I got the TV part, but no religion, and I was a minority language child, so I was accustomed to being an iconoclast from the get-go.

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