Abstract

In this qualitative study, I interviewed 13 women from two separate conservative Baptist congregations in Central Florida, one English-speaking and the other Hispanic. The purpose of this research was to explore the ways in which conservative Baptist women develop their identity as women, the gender ideologies they espouse, their experiences in ministry, and the possibility that they can achieve gender consciousness without aligning with feminist principles. In addition, my research employs an intersectional perspective to demonstrate differences in the experiences of white women and women of color in the church. This study consisted of semi-structured interviews with women from both the Hispanic and the predominantly white congregations over the course of a month.

According to my findings, strict complementarianism, the belief that men and women have entirely separate but complementary roles, was only observed among a small number of women. The majority demonstrated egalitarian tendencies with a combination of complementarian and evangelical pragmatist ideology. The latter was especially observable in spiritual practices and decision-making in marriage. For most of the women, their ideations of gender, marital, and parental expectations were not reflected in their actual practices. In terms of intersectionality and the experiences of women of color, the majority of women from the Hispanic congregation and white women from the English-speaking congregation determined that racial conflict did not take place within their church. On the other hand, Black women within the predominantly white congregation and two women who belonged to ethnic minorities within the Hispanic church did report friction, lack of community support, and discriminatory behavior towards them. These were not aspects of white women’s experiences in ministry.

This study is significant because, in addition to highlighting the gender ideologies upheld by conservative Baptist women, it also describes the ways in which they negotiate the scriptures to perform womanhood and expounds on the idea that conservative women can also find gender consciousness despite rejecting feminism. However, solidarity and inclusion were not found by women of all races and ethnicities. This research views these experiences and ideas of womanhood through an intersectional lens. As a result, it explains how race, ethnicity, and nationality can also frame ideas of womanhood and affect gender consciousness among women in conservative Baptist congregations where one race or ethnic group predominates.

Thesis Completion

2021

Semester

Spring

Thesis Chair

Armato, Michael

Degree

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Sociology

Language

English

Access Status

Open Access

Release Date

5-1-2021

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