I was able to find a number of articles and links to other references
about ?gender imbalance.? By far most of the information refers to the
increasing ratio of boys to girls in Asian nations such as China and
India, although imbalances exist in other parts of the world as well.
The term ?gender imbalance? can also refer to the relative paucity of
females that generally work in some areas such as physics,
mathematics, and other scientific fields. I have included references
to both types of imbalance.
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?The age-old bias for boys, combined with China's draconian one-child
policy imposed since 1980, has produced what Gu Baochang, a leading
Chinese expert on family planning, described as "the largest, the
highest, and the longest" gender imbalance in the world.
For centuries, Chinese families without sons feared poverty and
neglect. The male offspring represented continuity of lineage and
protection in old age.
The traditional thinking is best described in the ancient "Book of
Songs" (1000-700 B.C.):
?When a son is born,
Let him sleep on the bed,
Clothe him with fine clothes,
And give him jade to play...
When a daughter is born,
Let her sleep on the ground,
Wrap her in common wrappings,
And give broken tiles to play...?
The abortion of female fetuses and infanticide was aided by the spread
of cheap and portable ultra-sound scanners in the 1980's. Illegal
mobile scanning and back street hospitals can provide a sex scan for
as little as $50, according to one report.
?Prenatal sex selection was probably the primary cause, if not the
sole cause, for the continuous rise of the sex ratio at birth,? said
population expert Prof. Chu Junhong.?
Other interesting facts are in this article:
* The current boy:girl ratio is about 1.2:1.
* A survey in 2002 indicates that nearly 50% of Chinese women have had
abortion and/or have tried to select the sex of their children.
* In China, 70% of aborted fetuses are thought to be female.
Here is some information from an August 2006 news article. It makes an
interesting point about the effect of gender imbalance on societal
?Researchers have expressed alarm about cultures that favor male
babies, saying sex-ratio imbalances could destabilize society because
more men will remain unmarried, raising the risks of anti-social and
In a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of
Sciences, they said parts of China and India would have 12 percent to
15 percent more men over the next 20 years -- many of them rural
peasants with limited education.
?The growing number of young men with a lack of family prospects will
have little outlet for sexual energy,? wrote Zhu Weixing of China's
Zhejian Normal University and Therese Hesketh of the Institute of
Child Health at University College London. ?This trend would lead to
increased levels of anti-social behavior and violence, as gender is a
well-established correlate of crime, and especially violent crime,?
they said, adding the trend would threaten stability and security in
. . .
In 2004, 48.6 percent and 48.7 percent of the population in China and
India, respectively, were female. In contrast, females comprised 49.1
percent of the total population in East Asia, and 52.1 percent in all
of Europe and Central Asia, according to figures from the World Bank.
The authors called in the paper for measures to reduce sex selection
and an urgent change in cultural attitudes, or dire consequences could
?When single young men congregate, the potential for more organized
aggression is likely to increase substantially and this has worrying
implications for organized crime and terrorism,? they said.?
Here is a similar article about societal instability referencing a
recent study about gender imbalance. It also has some proposals on how
to improve the imbalance.
?The study's authors said moves to reduce sex selection are
desperately needed and should include:
* Strict enforcement of existing legislation.
* Equal rights for women.
* Public awareness campaigns about the dangers of gender imbalance.?
?China's gender imbalance is now 117 boys for every 100 girls and for
second and third children (when allowed) the imbalance can be as high
as 151 boys for every 100 girls. Millions of men, perhaps 15% of the
population, may not be able to find wives.
?The world has never before seen the likes of the bride shortage that
will be unfolding in China in the decades ahead,? says AEI demographer
The Chinese government has responded by making selective abortion
illegal and by giving significant bonuses to parents of girls. Yet
black market ultrasound is available and . . . in demand. Some
reports suggest that the gender imbalance is increasing.?
?China's one child per family policy has cut the country's birth rate
and means men clearly outnumber women in the population, a study
showed on Friday. Using data from nearly 40,000 women, it found the
birth rate had dropped from 2.9 before the policy was introduced in
1979 as a short-term measure to 1.94 in women over 35 and 1.73 in
women under 35 -- below replacement level.
. . .
Experts say Chinese parents have resorted to sex-selective abortion to
ensure their child was a boy since the one-child policy was
?These findings have clear implications for decisions about future
population policy,? concluded the authors. ?A relaxation of the policy
could be considered in the near future. It is unlikely that a baby
boom would result, and such a change in policy might help to correct
the abnormal sex ratio?
Thirty five percent of the women questioned said they wanted only one
child and 57 percent said they would stop at two. Less than six
percent said they wanted more.
Writing in the same issue, Malcolm Potts of the School of Public
Health at the University of California, Berkeley, praised the policy
for lifting 150 million Chinese out of abject poverty by creating the
conditions for increased economic growth. He said that while the
policy had caused grief for one generation of Chinese it had brought
far greater comfort for following generations.
?For China, and the world as a whole, the one child policy was one of
the most important social policies ever implemented,? he wrote, saying
other countries from Afghanistan to Nigeria with high population
growth had lessons to learn.?
?China's unbalanced sex ratio may cause serious consequences as
millions of men will be unlikely to find their spouses around 2020,
said a Chinese demographer. A growing gender imbalance among newborns
will cause consequences much more serious than expected, said Prof. Mu
Guangzhong with the population research institute of Beijing
University in an article published by the latest issue of Study Times.
According to statistics of the State Commission for Population and
Family Planning (SCPFP), there will be 25 million men who fail to have
wives around 2020 if the current gender imbalance keeps on.
. . .
The aborted amendment called for fines and prison terms of up to three
years for aborting a fetus based on gender of the fetus, but some
lawmakers argued that it is hard to collect evidence and pregnant
women should enjoy the right to know the sex of their unborn child.
. . .
The government will introduce a system to evaluate local officials'
efforts in controlling gender imbalance and those who have bad
performance will be punished, she said. The commission has launched a
program called ?Care for Girls? in 2003 in 24 pilot counties provides
social benefits, including cash payments, to families with only girls,
in order to boost the status of girls and women. The program is
credited with reducing the boys-to-girls ratio in those counties from
133.8/100 to 119.6/100 over the past three years. It will be promoted
to all provinces, regions and municipalities this year to curb the
male-dominated gender imbalance.?
Here is another article discussing marriage and the relative decrease
in eligible females in the next decade.
?Although the Chinese government has banned gender selection of
newborn babies by ultrasound and selective induced abortion, many
doctors secretly provide such services for extra fees, sometimes as
high as 1,000 yuan (US$120). It is difficult to know the truth because
pregnant women could choose to ask for the services and then lie about
it afterwards, said Zhang Shufang, a congress delegate from Heibei
province. The traditional Chinese thinking that men are more valuable
than women dominated the country for many centuries. Some rural people
just dumped female infants outside orphanages, Pan said.
. . .
The legal land rights and interests of rural women could not be
safeguarded in some areas, said Wang Qiongzhu, a delegate from Hainan
Province, noting that this contributed to the gender imbalance.?
Here is a list of areas in China with the greatest gender imbalances.
The numbers give the average number of boys born for every 100 girls.
?Regions where newborn gender ratio is imbalanced stretch from north
to south. They are Shaanxi (125.15), Henan (130.3), Anhui (130.76),
Hubei (128.08), Hunan (126.92), Jiangxi (138.01), Guangxi (128.8),
Guangdong (137.76) and Hainan (135.04). These eight provinces and one
region have become typical areas, which are most seriously hit by the
highest newborn gender ratio?
This article also discusses infant mortality for female babies as
another reason that gender imbalance exists.
?The newborn gender imbalance is linked to the high mortality of
0-year old female infants. The 0-year old mortality, either in cities
or rural areas, is higher for female infants than for male infants.
According to the statistics from China's fifth census mortality is
8.61 percent for 0-year old male infants and 10.69 percent for 0-year
old female infants in cities, whilst the figures in rural areas are
28.28 percent and 41.16 percent respectively. The difference between
male and female infant mortalities may be related to some people's
preference of sons to daughters.
Zhang Yi said in order to curb the climb of newborn gender ratio and
be responsible to future generations we should respond with policies
as soon as possible. The population strategy should be directed toward
lower newborn gender ratio, higher population quality, balanced
population age structure and stabilized low fertility level.?
Here is a 2004 article discussing implications of the gender imbalance in China.
This March 2006 article addresses gender imbalance in China and India
and some of its effects.
In India the government is offering educational assistances to
families with female children. Here is information from a September
?The new program will offer free education at high school level to all
girls of single child families. Those with two girls and no other
children may receive discounts of up to 50%. As a continuation of
India's policy of promoting education, the program includes provisions
for fellowships of US$ 45 per month for those undertaking
India faces problems with the balance of the sexes in the country;
some areas have a ratio of 80 girls to every 100 boys due to selective
abortions. Boys are more highly prized in Indian society and as a
result, many couples will have additional children after a girl in an
effort to produce a boy. In cases where the family already has one or
two female children the likelihood of a female [fetus] being aborted
is significantly higher.
Indian law already prohibits tests to determine the sex of an unborn
child for this very reason; however, it is routine during medical
examinations of the mother for the doctor to disclose the sex of the
Here are additional references about the Indian educational program.
?The government says it wants to change society's perception of girls.
It hopes the new move will bring down the strong preference for sons
in the country, which it says is adding to population pressure with
families producing more children in the hope of a male child. The
desire for male children often also leads to selective abortions and
discrimination against girls.?
?The generous scholarship program is a response to studies that show
that Indian couples frequently abort female children, particularly if
they already have a girl child. Indian law already forbids tests to
determine the gender of an unborn child, but doctors routinely
disclose that information in the course of a normal pregnancy
examination, and since access to abortion is virtually unrestricted in
India, the law has not substantially cut down on the number of female
Recent scrutiny of birth records at eight major hospitals in Delhi
revealed the extent of sex-selection abortion. For parents having
their second baby after a girl child, there were only 558 girls for
every 1,000 boys. After two girls the ratio was even more pronounced,
with only 219 girls for every 1,000 boys.
A national census conducted in 2001 found that there were only 800
girls to every 1,000 boys in some sections of India. The preference
for boy babies is rooted in cultural prejudice, and concerns about the
high costs of dowries demanded of women's families at marriage.?
?Promotion of Women?s education has been one of the cornerstones of
our educational policy. Unfortunately, girls still face discrimination
in our society. Son preference has led to various abhorrent practices
including female feticide. Participation of girls in education also
suffers because of societal attitudes. New initiatives have,
therefore, become necessary to give the girl child her due, and to
empower her for a life of equality and dignity.?
This next article discusses a newly-created gender imbalance in Indian
Ocean countries because of the tsunami that hit there in 2004.
?The Dec. 26 tsunamis that overwhelmed nations which share the Indian
Ocean hit women the hardest, says a new report.
Because more women died, a gender imbalance was created in some areas.
And the British-based charity Oxfam International said Saturday that
there are reports of forced marriage and sexual assault as a result.
?In some villages it now appears that up to 80 percent of those killed
were women,? Becky Buel, Oxfam's policy director, told The Associated
Press. ?This disproportionate impact will lead to problems for years
to come unless everyone working on the aid effort addresses the issue
The article mentions that in some areas of Sri Lanka the male to
female ratio approaches 10:1. It also talks of a rise in sexual
assault on women, forced marriages, and other abuses being committed
Here is a link to an article discussing the foreign policy
implications of gender imbalance. You can access the entire article by
?Thanks in large part to the introduction of the ultrasound machine,
Mother Nature?s usual preference for about 105 males to 100 females
has grown to around 120 male births for every 100 female births in
China. The imbalance is even higher in some locales?136 males to 100
females on the island of Hainan, an increasingly prosperous tourist
resort, and 135 males to 100 females in central China?s Hubei
Province. Similar patterns can be found in Taiwan, with 119 boys to
100 girls; Singapore, 118 boys to 100 girls; South Korea, 112 boys to
100 girls; and parts of India, 120 boys to 100 girls.?
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GENDER IMBALANCE IN SCIENCE (AND OTHER FIELDS)
Here is the abstract from a paper about gender imbalance in the field
of computer science.
?This paper describes a gender imbalance in the field of computing
education and considers some of the possible reasons. There is an
analysis of GCSE and ?A? level computer studies results, and a
comparison of male and female entrants to computer courses at further
education colleges and universities over the same period of time. The
investigation found that women were significantly under-represented in
the field of computing. There was a significant difference between the
entrants for GCSE and ?A? level computing with third level education
witnessing a noticeable lowering in female applicants for computer
studies courses. An exception from this however, was the part
time/evening enrolment at colleges of further education where there
was a dramatic rise in female participation.?
Here is an editorial written by a ?future mathematician,? who also
happens to be female. It addresses some of the gender imbalance in
scientific fields, especially physics and mathematics.
This article appeared in the University of Illinois student newspaper
September 8, 2006. It addresses the male-dominated nature of
engineering both locally and nationwide.
?Low female enrollment in Engineering is not a new issue, said Susan
Larson, associate professor in Engineering and assistant dean. Larson
said women's enrollment in Engineering at the University has always
been low, which is a problem. ?Engineering can't serve society unless
it reflects society,? Larson said. ?We need talented, bright people,
and if half our population we can't reach, we're suffering as a
This problem is not exclusive to the University. The Engineering
Workforce Commission found that in 2002, only 18.5 percent of all
undergraduates at more than 500 different institutions were women.
Keith Hjelmstad, associate dean of Academic Programs in the college of
Engineering, said with exceptions, low female enrollment in
Engineering can be found at institutions across the United States. The
Massachusetts Institute of Technology is one of those exceptions.
Women currently make up 36 percent of all undergraduates there, 22
percent more than at the University, according to the Office of the
Registrar at MIT.
While there are many reasons women don't appear to be drawn to
engineering, none relate to ability, Larson said.?
Gender imbalance is also present in U.S. public relations firms.
?About 70 percent of today?s practitioners are women, and this has
created a considerable gender imbalance in many departments and public
relations firms. Currently, many managers say that such an imbalance
is not a healthy workplace situation.?
Gender imbalance apparently exists in the Irish Civil Service. Here is
a research paper discussing it.
Men are the largest developers of open source software. This is a
trend that many insiders would like to see reversed.
?Only two percent of the thousands of developers working on
open-source software projects are women, a panel discussion at the
annual O'Reilly Open Source Convention heard. This compares to some 25
percent of all developers in the proprietary software industry. And
they want something done about it.?
Here is a brief reference to the lack of females practicing patent law.
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Wow, this is some really thought-provoking stuff! I hope that you find
this information useful! If you have any need of further
clarification, please let me know how I can help.
?gender imbalance? China
?gender imbalance? India