Put this into the “you already guessed it” category, but some recent research shows that parents often have a preference – a significant preference, even – about the gender of their expected child.
In this survey, participants were asked what gender they’d prefer their firstborn to be, what gender they’d prefer the majority of their children to be, and what gender they would prefer if they were to only have one child.
What the researchers were surprised to find – which we may not be quite as surprised to find – is that men prefer sons, and women prefer daughters.
In some ways, it’s easy to reason why men would want to have sons. After all, men have the possibility of keeping the family gene line going by potentially fathering more women than a single woman could bear. While in most cultures that actual practice wouldn’t be looked upon favorably, you can see where the drive comes from.
For women, however, it’s suggested that there is a more complex reasoning for wanting daughters. Women may have a desire to have the shared experience of pregnancy, or the strong bonds that are perceived to exist between mother and daughter.
Women, according to the researchers, have a “legacy drive” rather than a simple drive to procreate and keep the genetic line going.
There are a number of ways this plays out, of course. In some extreme cases, for example, there is the practice of female feticide, in which girls are aborted and boys are not. This isn’t entirely uncommon in certain countries like India and China. Yet, there is some evidence that it’s happening among certain cultural groups in North America, as well.
This type of gender selection goes way beyond simply trying to give yourself an edge in choosing your baby’s gender. Some ethicists make the case that it’s actually a form of discrimination against women, and if practiced on a large scale could lead to other sociological problems.
One solution proposed in Canada, for example, is to hold off revealing a baby’s gender until after 30 weeks of pregnancy, at which point abortion is no longer a legal option.