Weaker Vessels and Helpmeets: Gender Role Stereotypes and Attitudes toward Female Ordination

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A distinction is made between two types of stereotypes about women: a "weaker vessel" stereotype, connoting female inferiority, and a "helpmeet" stereotype, connoting gender role specialization without necessary feminine inferiority. Among lay people, the weaker vessel stereotype is a stronger predictor of opposition to female ordination than is the helpmeet stereotype. The exception to this generalization is Catholic men, who, if they oppose female ordination, seem likely to do so because of a belief that women are better qualified to handle specialized, nonclerical tasks. This distinction may arise because of the status of Mary in the Catholic church.


Catholic Church; Ordination; Ordination of women; Sex roles; Stereotypes (Social psychology); Women


Catholic Studies | Political Science | Religion | Women's Studies


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