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The Relationship between Gender-based Inequality among the Household and Children’s Psychology in India

Updated on June 9, 2016

Policymakers in developing countries are constantly struggling to address discrimination against girls and women. Sex-selective abortions and female infanticide are common in countries such as India. Differential economic returns and an “inherent” parental sex preference, which means a gender bias that arises purely from parental taste, or preference toward a particular sex independent of any direct economic return from the child to the parents are factors contributing to parental gender bias (Ben Porath and Welch 1976; Behrman et al. 1986; Davis and Zhang 1995). If parents’ expectations of sons and daughters differ because, for example, sons bring benefits to their parents such as old age insurance or better labor market prospects, while daughters impose costs such as dowry then differential treatment of sons and daughters is consistent with the efficient allocation of resources. If parents treat boys and girls differently from babyhood on, show any partiality based on gender such as mother’s partiality to her girl and father’s partiality to his boy, the children’s relationships with the other parent will suffer. As a result, getting less time with the parent, in other words the inequity based on gender will create most probably jealousies (Parent Map, Playing Favorites: Do We Treat Our Kids Differently?, 2016). These kind of disadvantaged children are psychologically the most vulnerable to adversities and have least resources to overcome them. In other words, inequality undermines the development of human potential, and they quickly falling behind in terms of early learning and other outcomes.


Public health research indicates that gender inequalities have significant associations with psychological ill health and increased risk of morbidity and mortality, mainly among women. However, these associations are uncertain, owing to some major methodological limitations in earlier researches. Earlier researches are under the representation of men. Thus, there is lack of knowledge as to whether the gender-based discrimination is associated with psychological distress of men in the same way as for women (Harryson, L., Novo, M., et al, p.271, 2010). Meanwhile, the general research done by Nivette, A. E., Eisner shows that males grown up in the discriminated environment against women tend to exhibit higher levels of physical aggression. By using of the large amount of children from highly dissimilar immigrant background, the authors compare the size of the sex difference in aggression between children whose parents were born in countries with low and with high levels of gender inequality. The results of study show that sex differences in aggression are generally larger among children with parents from high gender inequality backgrounds (2014). In the other research done by Motiram, S., & Osberg, L. (2010) uses the Indian Time Use Survey (ITUS 1999) the analysis documents clarify gender inequalities in the distribution of household tasks among girls and boys and finds more mixed evidence such as the possibility that girls are given informal instruction.

Notwithstanding the fact that there are a number of research have studied the primary effects of gender inequality, the direct psychological impacts of gender-based discrimination on children within the family is still out of the investigation carried out by world-known scholars. The primary research question is how the gender inequality within the household affects the children psychologically. Thus, the following hypothesis was examined throughout the study; there is a positive relationship between gender-based discrimination within the family and misguiding psychology of children.


In order to test the hypothesis of the study and examine the main question raised, the individual interviews and survey was used as methodological tools because of getting in contact with foreign citizens easily. The individual interviews was held with five Indian citizens and was consist of open-ended questions. They was conducted to collect information about the participants’ perception of their society and were especially significant in order to examine the questions like “At which level are the children grown up with misguiding psychology able to get success in their professional life?” While two male participants were chosen in order to investigate whether the gender-based discrimination is associated with psychological distress of men in the same way as for women, three female participants were chosen in order not to experience lack of female perspective about the issue. As gender-based discrimination seems to increase with age and becomes almost universal at the intensive margin for 15-19 year olds, the mean age of participants is 18.I also interviewed one psychologist as an expert about the subconscious and conscious psychological effects of the gender-based inequality within the family in order to deeply comprehend the issue. Correspondingly, the survey based on likert scale (a scale used to represent people's attitudes to a topic) was sent to the survey participants via social network.

The first inevitable limitation in order to conduct the research was having direct access to India and its citizens due to the long distance. On the other hand, there is lack of the research studies exactly on the problem-the psychological effect of gender-based discrimination within the family; therefore, it was difficult to find sufficient information from the library database.


The results show that gender inequality experienced by the children within the family seems to be an important determinant of psychological distress for both women and men. More specifically, anti-girl discrimination seems to increase with age, becomes almost universal at the intensive margin for 15-19 year olds and leads to higher odds of tobacco use, lifetime drug use, alcohol disorder, and high-risk HIV sexual behaviors. Meanwhile, the survey results show that women experienced gender based inequality within the household attribute their failure to their own performance more than the prejudice of the raters because gender based discrimination within the household has already leaded to believe that there is very little possibility they are able to achieve higher status as individuals. In contrast, men grown up in the discriminated environment against the female members of their family attribute their failure to prejudice more than to their own performance in all conditions except the condition where they were told explicitly that none of the raters was biased against them. As gender based discrimination within the household immunize women to the sexist behaviors, women reported less depressed affect when they could attribute negative feedback to the evaluator’s sexism.

Whatever people experience in their childhood affects their future life. They may get some kind of character, personal value that prolongs continues to end of their life which is difficult to change it. Psychological effects might be detrimental the negative experience of the childhood affects people future negatively. As other eastern countries India pay attention more to the gender rather than western societies. But overall of course the environment that has some kind of essence of discrimination in terms of gender effects how people look at the gender. Or how they consider females over the males. For example not having a male child was considered to be something negative or something not positive to have all children female. They always desired male in the family just because it was considered something honorable. Of course that comes from gender inequality definitely. The culture is the first step leads to gender inequality that affects to the children’s psychology negatively. The culture tells you one something is better that the other. One is worse than the other. When family gets male or female what they start is accommodate all their life even the childhood of the baby in accordance of the cultural values. They say for example that having a male is more honorable that female or males can do these things while female cannot do those things. If it is about females, females are really much more affected by that. It is not only about something psychology but also systematic problem. Let say there is a concept glass ceiling in some companies, which means that females cannot be able to go beyond specific states, or positions just because it is not written rule some kind of social context that does not allow going upper. They are paid less than males. Females are somehow disadvantaged when compared with males in terms of professional success. However sometimes you have reverse cases like people discriminated very much in their childhood and they are very successful. However overall as a systematic factor discrimination would lead to some kind of systematic results in their future life whether positively or negatively. When females feel that they are discriminated they firstly will be demotivated. Demotivation is the first factor that leads to the failure. Male do not care about that because it is a problem of females. In female cases, the success is partly defined by how much they are discriminated. They are less concerned about the success. There are other factors beyond being a male such as their experience their education. To least extent, they can be tolerant. They tend to criticize others. If you have stereotypes, you already criticized somebody. You already put somebody in the place that is disadvantaged place in your mind. Therefore, it is difficult to be tolerant to others. If you already have me and others, if you have stereotypes putting some people into the other folder, it means you put distance between you and them which means you are less tolerant person. Stereotypes are built by culture. Culture affects way of thinking, psychology affects tolerance.

Gender based discrimination has sufficient impacts on children’s psychology. For example, if there is a problem in the household, if directly affects their psychology, which causes serious problems in future. Overall, discrimination formulate the mind of children, when these children are going to grow up, they will also do the same discrimination as their family. The society may deconstruct their future. However, possibility is that those who experienced problems in their family they will promote the same values of their families to the society as well. If they see a hierarchy in the man’s side, they will choose the same path. Children just copy and paste the same context of the family. There is a huge problem in that sense. They are cutting down or aborting the female babies. Ideological evolution of men is not already happen. People still sure about their own identities they want to impose their own the way of thinking. The cultural and societal issues maybe religious perspectives also leads to the gender based inequality. Religious society matters. Historically if they believe something they will keep believing the same thing which comes from religious aspects overall. Not only Muslim part of the society concern about this issue, but also the Hindu peoples. The ideology was formulated in a cultural aspect it affects the individual’s way of thinking which form the family. Girls are somehow additional responsibility in the family. Men are the producing person who bring money. You should always care about her secure her. In terms of cultural values, you should buy something for her but they leaving you. The same ideology will be followed by the children. Girls sitting at home the task of the family is just give her marriage to find a husband for her. How long she stays, she bring other responsibilities. It is better for them to make a marriage. This kind of situation directly affects girls’ psychology. They are not investing for their future. They are not studying very well they are not going for their dreams because no dreams because society already concluded everything for you. What about men, they will implement the same ideology for their children. They will not accept women as a free individual of the society because constructivism works here, what they got from their family is directly affects their psychology. Even in the work frame wherever they work, they will not accept the women working at the same place. It will be somehow ridiculous for them, because their sister are waiting for marriage at home, the other should also do the same thing. Because the ideology shapes their psychology. If the husband beats his wife at home it will bring aggression to the children. The boys experience aggression will less respect to the mother because of hierarchy of the father and will act violently in the society. The girls will be also somehow in a defeat position and will be afraid of the society. 4. Society is deconstructive. If the liberalism is a dominant ideology in your country, eventually you will be a part of this society. In that sense the possibility of survive is very high. If they continue to follow the same ideology they got from their family, it will influence their future. Men will have so many problems in workplaces in terms of accepting women as businesspersons; women will have so many problems in terms of struggling their dreams. If you are presenting your society, the liberal community will teach you other things. You will have a chance to get them. If they continue to follow the same ideology, they got from their family, it is very low possibility to get success in the professional life because society is different, and you will one of the few ones. Here contradictions rises. 5. Once the reality is not what their parents taught them, they will begin to think about the liberal ideology. For example, while the parents represents the values of soviet times, we cannot continue to follow the same ideology. Because already society influence us, internet influence us. We are in touch with every kind of people via social network. Because we are taught to be tolerant. If the children are open-minded, keep the touch with the society, reality is around him or her, of course will be a tolerant one. But this hypothesis fails in terms of radical countries. Because the society requires the same thing as your family. You pretend the same. You should be the same. Once these people go to Europe, they see will see the difference and start to think about they are bad because they present their society. However, after studying a few years in Europe, they will be more tolerant, more open-minded because they will share the same values with the society that they live. When they do not understand, kind of attacks occur. The Paris attack by whom is done by the person who coming from Syria, but by the person who grown up in Syria. Because what their families imposes to their brain turn into their own values their own identities. When the liberal society irritates him or her, the only solution is going back to your own cave. They are turning into the people have serious psychological problems. If they come to politics, that will have a worse outcomes. Women representatives of the society will decrease and not able to use all of our sources because women are brains. They should became a part of this framework around us. Conservative psychology leads to decreasing the number of women, which means not sufficient women to give a birth to the new life.

There is a direct relationship between discriminated environment and the expectation that women should stay at home, give a birth to male babies and raise them. This understanding is the first primary duty of women. Social divide: Women for private life and men public life. 3. Making a distinction starts earlier by second years baby; they ask mother, he is a girl or a boy? When they are treated differently than the boys. Especially, in the traditional societies, it is a privilege to have a boy. If you have only girls, the social perception about you is unlucky you.4. Social pressure on the men is being successful in terms of education, experience in order not to be loser, while the social pressure on the women is to stay at home and serve your husband as an exchange value. The misguiding psychology you have leads to be a looser in the life. 5. Tolerance starts with gender equality. If you are tolerant to your sister, daughter, it is a good start. It will affect your social behavior at work, at university. As a child, you should learn tolerance in your family, if you fail to be tolerant in your family; you will fail to accept different opinions in your adulthood.

Reference List

Harryson, L., Novo, M., & Hammarstrom, A. (2010). Is gender inequality in the domestic sphere associated with psychological distress among women and men? Results from the Northern Swedish Cohort. Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health,66(3), 271-276. doi:10.1136/jech.2010.109231

Riger, S., Foster-Fishman, P., Nelson-Kuna, J., & Curran, B. (2015). Gender Bias Attitude Survey. PsycTESTS Dataset. doi:10.1037/t38114-000

Playing Favorites: Do We Treat Our Kids Differently? (n.d.). Retrieved April 23, 2016, from


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