Women and Gendered Mosque Organisations

An examination of mosques in Denmark as gendered organisation and women's participation from the perspective of 'lived institutions'

PhD defence by Pernille Friis Jensen.


Over the past 15 years there has been an increase in women participating in mosque organisations in Denmark. However, far too little attention has been paid to the experiences of women within these organisations. As recent research has tended to focus on lived experiences of individuals outside of religious institutions – consequently leaving the embeddedness of these individuals unnoticed – little is known about the gendered structures of mosque organisations in Denmark and how they impact women’s participation and vice versa.

Based on qualitative methods and an quantitative element the thesis pays attention to the gendered structure of these organisations to see how such produce gendered belongings and how those structures are changed and maintained. The thesis demonstrates how organisations – despite general structural gender inequality in the form of women’s inability to occupy central leadership and religious functions as well as limiting physical structures – in different ways and by other means allow for women’s involvement. With this focus, the thesis shows how gendered structures are reproduced and changed as a result of both internal norm shifts and external pressure.

The dissertation contributes to the sociology religion and more specifically studies in religion, gender and institutions by examining mosques in Denmark as gendered organisations. The dissertation thus contributes not only empirically to the field in the form of a typology of gendered mosques, but also theoretically in the form of the presentation of the perspective lived institution which is the result of a conversation across the theoretical paradigms New Institutionalism from organisational studies and lived religion from studies of religion. One aim of the dissertation is thus to show how norms in religious organisations are changed and maintained as lived institutions illuminated through the example of women’s involvement in mosque organisations. Through this, the dissertation also shows an example of how gender and religion intersect in complex ways and how it emphasises the significance of the context of this intersection.


Assessment committee

  • Professor Emerita Margit Warburg (front person)
  • Professor, Dr. Phil. Garbi Schmidt (Roskilde University)
  • Professor, Göran Larsson (University of Göteborg)

Head of the defence

  • Head of department Annika Hvithamar (University of Copenhagen)

Copies of the dissertation are available at the following three locations:

  • The information desk at Copenhagen University Library South Campus, Karen Blixens Plads 7
  • In Reading room East at the Royal Library (the Black Diamond), Søren Kierkegaards Plads 1
  • At the library of the Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Karen Blixens Plads 8