India or US, gender bias remains same for fathers, mothers

A study conducted in US and India showed that fathers prefer to spend for sons, and mothers for daughters whether it is a small gift or passing on the property.

Gender bias remains same for father and mothers
Brittany Parow, 24, sits with her daughter Mallory Collins, 6, of Abington, Virginia, at the Remote Area Medical Clinic in Wise, Virginia, U.S., July 22, 2017. Brittany is a stay-at-home mother who does not have health insurance. Mallory is covered by Medicaid. Picture taken July 22, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts Reuters

It is not unusual that fathers favour daughters and mothers favour sons on a host of issues but in terms of spending money, a study found it otherwise. If the parent has both son and daughter at the time of shopping, invariably father would buy for son first and mother would so for the daughter. The results are the same in India and in the US, cutting across cultural diversity.

The study undertaken by Rutgers Business School in New Jersey said a mother would invariably go for buying something for her daughter, while a father would choose a gift for his son over his daughter and it was the case in more than 90 percent of people studied. Though these participants vowed not to differentiate on gender, researchers discovered that most parents unwittingly favor the child of the same sex when it comes to spending money.

"We found that the effect was very robust in four different experiments and across cultures," said Kristina Durante, a professor of marketing at Rutgers. "The bias toward investing in same-gendered children occurs because women identify more with and see themselves in their daughters, and the same goes for men and sons."

The participants had a child of each gender and they were given $25 for one of their children to spend. The majority of mothers chose to give it to their daughters, while the fathers preferred their sons. When the test was extended to India, surprisingly the findings are the same though cultures differ.

Moreover, participants favored children of their own gender in terms of sharing the property through a family will, showing the centuries-old bias for the patriarchal inheritance of property in India.

In another experiment at a zoo when participants were given a raffle ticket and asked to decide whether to enter the raffle for a girl's back-to-school backpack or a boy's backpack, the same gender bias reflected again when mothers chose the girl's backpack 75 percent of the time and fathers picked the boy's backpack 87 percent of the time.

The findings have implications for children and their upbringing, said Durante. If mothers have control over the family property, then daughters may receive more in terms of healthcare, inheritance and investments than their brothers. If fathers are in control of the family purse, then sons may get to spend more money and inherit more property in the long-run.

Extrapolating the findings, Durante said the unconscious gender bias may also have ramifications far beyond the family. "If a woman is responsible for promotion decisions in the workplace, female employees may be more likely to benefit. The reverse may be true if men are in charge of such decisions," said Durante.

"If this gender bias influences decisions related to charitable giving, college savings, promotions and politics, then it can have profound implications and is something we can potentially correct going forward," he said.

The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.