Male Bias in the Development Process an Overview Article Review

Excerpt from Article Review :

Male Bias

Until the 1970s and 1980s, women were largely ignored by policy makers on the national and internal levels, while neoclassical economic models assumed that the aggregate income of households would be shared equally between men and women. More recent research has proven these assumptions to be false, and that the conflict model of household economics is more the norm in reality. Economists and government statisticians also failed to recognize the value of women's unpaid labor in domestic and reproductive work, or that Structural Adjustment Programs imposed by the International Monetary Fund had a disproportionately negative effect on women. In addition, even in the formal sectors of the economy, women's labor was generally low-paid, unskilled and insecure compared to men. Feminist theorists have demonstrated that gender relations are "socially determined" (Elson 1) and that development issues cannot be considered apart from these. For this reasons, economists and social planners need to address questions of differences in power relations, since "women are less powerful than men of similar economic and social position" (Elson 2). They are also in greater danger of sexual violence and physical abuse regardless of social class, although women of different social classes do not share the same social and economic interests. A gender relations approach that takes subordination and power differences into consideration does not necessarily mean that "all men are biased against women" or that some women do not cooperate in their own oppression, only that women are usually more willing to combat it than men (Elson 3).

Male Bias in Development Outcomes

Neoclassical economists played down gender bias in their research and did not seem to be aware of power differentials within households. They also ignored factors of culture and socialization that trained women to perform purely unpaid, domestic and reproductive tasks, denied them adequate nutrition and educational opportunities. Nor did they pay attention to patriarchal family and community structures that made it impossible for women to even express their own individual choices and preferences (Elson 5). In the 20th Century, women may have obtained voting rights and legal equality in the formal sense, but inequality has remained the norm in social and economic life. In many countries, even land ownership is still reserved for male heads of households, while labor, social welfare and minimum wage laws do not apply to the informal sector where the majority of women are employed. Male bias in development continues to exist because "women enjoy fewer and more circumscribed capabilities than do men" (Elson 5). Female-headed households are overwhelmingly poor in every region of the world, which is yet another indication of male bias. Like racial, ethnic and regional biases, it also lowers female output and productivity and makes the achievement all overall development objectives far more difficult.

Causes of Male Bias in Development

Male bias exists at all levels of development, including actions and attitudes in everyday life, public policy, and the theoretical reasoning of development economists. In daily life, such biases may even be unconscious "perceptions and habits, the result of oversight, faulty assumptions, a failure to ask questions" (Elson 7). Women's labor and contributions to family income and living standards go unpaid and unrecognized almost everywhere. Their wages and incomes are lower than those of men in almost every country in the world, while in childhood, they are often denied adequate nutrition because sons are more highly valued. Women's contribution to agricultural production is largely unknown to official statisticians or simply aggregated as part of household and family incomes. Until very recently, economic and social development policies simply were not formulated with women…

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"Male Bias In The Development Process An Overview" (2011, September 17) Retrieved June 18, 2019, from

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