Results from the 2016 National Church Life Survey
The results from the 2016 National Church Life Survey reveal that 60% of Australian church attenders identify as female and 40% as male.
This figure has been constant since 2006, continuing a trend of gender imbalance over 25 years of the NCLS.
In every denomination, in every age grouping, women outnumber men.
Australian churches contain proportionally more females than the wider population, with 60% of churchgoers being female, in comparison with 51% of all Australians.
Note: For comparison, figures are calculated on the population aged 15 years and over.
One explanation is that women live longer than men on average. The fact that churches have an older age profile is consistent with more elderly women in church than elderly men.
However, there is more to it. Broader population studies indicate that women tend to be more spiritual or religious than men. They are more likely to pray, to say that faith is important and to attend worship. This is true across most cultures and religious traditions. (For some theories explaining gender differences in religion, see 'Why are women more religious than men?')
Where does that leave male spirituality and its place in Christian churches? Some churches are asking how they can better connect with men, particularly younger men. Baptist, Churches of Christ, Pentecostal and Lutheran churches have slightly higher levels of males (43-44%) than other denominations.
More detailed tables showing denominational comparisons are available in the paper Comparing Church and Community.
Publication date: March 2018
Powell, R., Pepper, M., Hancock, N. and Sterland, S. (2017) 2016 NCLS Attender Survey [Data file]. Sydney: NCLS Research. 2016 Census of Population and Housing, Australian Bureau of Statistics.
A research project into the nature and prevalence of family violence in faith communities
Confident and gifted young women willing yet under-involved in Catholic parishes
The gender imbalance among church attenders is a long-standing issue.