Gender Selection and Sexism

Gender selection, in its broadest sense, refers to anything that a woman or a couple might do in order to either guarantee that they have a baby of a certain gender, or to at least increase the chances that their baby will be a certain gender. Gender selection can be as simple as having intercourse in a certain position, or as complex as actually separating the sperm that will create a boy from the sperm that will create a girl for use in In Vitro Fertilization. However, there are several ethical questions regarding gender selection. One of the biggest issues that critics of gender selection raise is that gender selection may be sexist.

Those who argue against gender selection suggest that gender selection is sexist because, in society as a whole, it will ultimately lead to the oppression of one gender. When a society comes to favor a specific gender, that gender will be selected more often than the other gender. This will create a situation in which the favored gender outnumbers the non-favored gender. Ultimately, it can lead to this more numerous, dominant gender oppressing the gender that is not as numerous.

Gender selection is sexist, opponents say, in that it resembles the horrors of the now-defunct science of eugenics. By genetically manipulating a fetus, whether it is for gender or some other purpose, the genetic pool is forever changed, and not necessarily in a good way.

Gender selection may not be sexist in certain situations, however. If, for example, the aim of gender selection is to avoid a serious genetic problem, such as an inherited same-sex genetic deformity or disease. Those who believe that gender selection is sexist will, however, point out that these situations may eventually lead to situations in which gender selection is made for other, less serious and important reasons.

Finally, some may not view gender selection as sexist when it is done without medical interference. If a couple has a boy and wants a girl, and if they believe that having intercourse in a certain fashion will produce a girl, this may not be nearly as sexist as the couple who asks the fertility clinic for a girl because they don’t want a boy.

Baby Gender Prediction: Scientific Methods

English: A sleeping male baby with his arm ext...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)


There are literally dozens of different ways you can try to predict your baby’s gender. Keeping in mind that there are only two choices, any method you choose is going to be right half of the time. Before you go out to buy pink bows or blue elephants to decorate the nursery, however, you might want to wait until you have a verifiable, proven method of baby gender prediction.

There are, essentially, three scientific methods that will allow you to predict your baby’s gender with accuracy:

  1. Ultrasound. This is the way that most of us figure out whether we’re going to have a boy or a girl. The ultrasound at your regular prenatal appointment around 18 to 20 weeks should give you a good idea. As long as the baby cooperates  and the technician can get a view of the genital area, this method will be able to predict whether you’re going to have a boy or a girl in about 85% of cases. While there is some room for human error, it’s nowhere near the 50% of the unscientific methods.

  3. Amniocentesis. Chances are you’re not going to have amniocentesis without another reason. It’s an invasive procedure, with a limited amount of risk to your baby. Usually, an amniocentesis and the accompanying CVS (chorionic villus sampling) are used to identify genetic disorders and chromosome abnormalities, including Down Syndrome. If you have an amniocentesis done, however, you can know your baby’s gender with around 99% accuracy.

  5. Prenatal DNA testing. This is the costliest of the scientific methods of baby gender prediction. It actually tests a sample of the mother’s blood, which will contain certain DNA elements from her baby. The high cost generally prevents it from happening, and it is almost never used solely for baby gender prediction. This kind of testing is 100% accurate in terms of gender prediction.

So, there you have it. While dangling your wedding ring above your belly or looking at your belly to see if you’re carrying low or high can be fun ways to speculate about your baby’s gender, the only methods with any degree of certainty are the scientific methods.