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Faculty of Economics

The latest report from the Pew Research Center features expert advice from the Faculty’s Professor Sriya Iyer a fellow at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.


Professor Sriya Iyer

It shows how Indians View Gender Roles in Families and Society and indicates Indians accept women as political leaders, but many favour traditional gender roles in family life.

Today, most Indians say that women and men make equally good political leaders, and more than one-in-ten feel that women generally make better political leaders than men, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey of nearly 30,000 adults throughout India. Only a quarter of Indian adults take the position that men make better political leaders than women.

Professor Iyer says “many Indians express egalitarian views toward some gender roles in the home. However, as the Pew Report demonstrates, when it comes to the reality, traditional gender norms are still prevalent, and hold a significant sway among large segments of the population.”

Yet, in domestic settings, Indians tend to say men should have more prominent roles than women. About nine-in-ten Indians agree with the notion that a wife must always obey her husband, including nearly two-thirds who completely agree with this sentiment. Indian women are only slightly less likely than Indian men to say they completely agree that wives should always obey their husbands (61% vs. 67%), according to the survey, which was conducted between late 2019 and early 2020 (mostly before the COVID-19 pandemic).


Indian Festival


This study, funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts and the John Templeton Foundation, is part of a larger effort by Pew Research Center to understand religious change and its impact on societies around the world.

To read the report, click here:

Last year Professor Iyer was invited by the Chief Economist's Office at the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to give a talk on her research on the economics of religion in India. Anna Rudge, a Senior Economic Adviser to the Chief Economist, interviewed Dr. Iyer on her main research findings: