When it comes to having babies, a strong gender bias remains. Researchers found that men want to have sons, and women want to have daughters.
There was a time, not so long ago, when a woman didn’t know whether she was carrying a boy or a girl until her baby was born. Many parents-to-be still enjoy the anticipation of waiting to find out, while other parents opt to know now so they can tailor their baby purchases accordingly.
Yet ask almost any parent-to-be if they hope their baby will be a boy or a girl, and the almost inevitable answer you receive is “it doesn’t matter as long as the baby’s healthy”.
“Gender neutrality—a lack of preference—is now a standard cultural norm embraced within most wealthy developed countries like Canada,” says Lonnie Aarssen, a Queen’s University biology professor and co-author of a recent study published in the Open Anthropology Journal.
To his surprise, Aarssen found that a strong gender bias remains, despite our cultural embrace of gender neutrality. Men still want to have sons, and women still want to have daughters.
One factor that may explain the study’s results are that we have “a strong intrinsic desire to leave something of [ourselves] behind”. Men see their sons achieving this, while women see their daughters achieving this.
Overall, both men and women showed a strong preference for wanting boys. I wanted a boy when I was pregnant because I didn’t want to deal with an adolescent girl who might follow in my footsteps and give me grief. Having my son is the best thing that ever happened to me, and raising a child is challenging no matter which sex they turn out to be.
But children are worth every ounce of energy, time, and commitment we give them—boy or girl.