Advertisement

Learning to Be Gendered: Gender Socialization in Early Adolescence Among Urban Poor in Delhi, India, and Shanghai, China

      Abstract

      Purpose

      The purpose of the study is to understand the gender socialization process in early adolescence.

      Methods

      The study was located in two disadvantaged urban communities in Delhi, India and Shanghai, China and was part of the multicountry (15) Global Early Adolescent Study. Qualitative methodologies were used with boys and girls aged 11–13 years, including 16 group-based timeline exercises and 65 narrative interviews. In addition, 58 parents of participating adolescents were interviewed. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, translated, and uploaded into Atlas.ti for coding and thematic analysis.

      Results

      Boys and girls growing up in the same community were directed onto different pathways during their transition from early to late adolescence. Adolescents and parents in both sites identified mothers as the primary actor, socializing adolescents into how to dress and behave and what gender roles to play, although fathers were also mentioned as influential. Opposite-sex interactions were restricted, and violations enforced by physical violence. In Delhi, gender roles and mobility were more strictly enforced for girls than boys. Restrictions on opposite-sex interactions were rigid for both boys and girls in Delhi and Shanghai. Sanctions, including beating, for violating norms about boy-girl relationships were more punitive than those related to dress and demeanor, especially in Delhi. Education and career expectations were notably more equitable in Shanghai.

      Conclusions

      Parents teach their children to adhere to inequitable gender norms in both Delhi and Shanghai. However, education and career expectations for boys and girls in the two sites differed. Although gender norms varied by site according to the particular cultural and historical context, similar patterns of gender inequity reflect the underlying patriarchal system in both settings. The tendency of parents to pass on the norms they grew up with is evident, yet these results illustrate the social construction of gender through children's interaction with the social ecology, including evolving political and economic systems. Efforts to bend gender norms toward greater equality can build on these results by empowering children and parents to reflect critically on inequitable gender norms and roles and by mobilizing economic and social support at key turning points in adolescents' lives.

      Keywords

      Implications and Contributions
      Findings that parents are the principal transmitters of inequitable gender norms even in the midst of changing social norms corresponding to structural changes suggest the need for programs to address parents, as well as children, and to harness evolving social norms for greater gender equality. This study is unique in comparing India and China and contributes to the scanty literature on gender socialization in middle- and low-income countries.
      Gender norms formed during early adolescence influence health and sexuality in later adolescence and beyond. Gender inequalities, such as stereotypical gender attitudes, men's authority over women, and unequal access to resources, are associated with negative health outcomes, gender-based violence, and economic vulnerability [
      • Heise L.L.
      • Kotsadam A.
      Cross-national and multilevel correlates of partner violence: An analysis of data from population-based surveys.
      ,
      • Peacock D.
      • Barker G.
      Working with men and boys to prevent gender-based violence: Principles, lessons learned, and ways forward.
      ]. Gender socialization, the process of teaching/learning about being a girl or a boy, starts as early as birth and extends throughout adolescence [
      • Hill J.
      • Lynch M.
      The intensification of gender-related role expectations during early adolescence.
      ]. It includes teaching girls to be prepared for the roles of wife and mother and training boys to shoulder the roles of provider and protector [
      • Giddens A.
      Sociology.
      ,

      Lundgren R. The cultural ecology of youth and gender-based violence in Northern Uganda. Digital Repository at the University of Maryland. 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.13016/M2QC9C. Accessed May 30, 2017.

      ,

      International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW). ‘The Girl Effect: What do boys have to do with it?’, Briefing note for an Expert Meeting and Workshop. 2010. Washington, DC, 5–6 October.

      ].
      Appropriate behaviors for males and females are learned and internalized through exposure to different socializing agents such as family, media, and social institutions [
      • Giddens A.
      Sociology.
      ,
      • Lou C.
      • Cheng Y.
      • Gao E.
      Media’s contribution to sexual knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors for adolescents and young adults in three Asian cities.
      ]. However, children do not passively absorb and embody social messages; they interact with others to produce their own form of gender identity. Gender is an acquired identity that is learned, changes over time, and varies widely within and across cultural contexts. Socially constructed gender identities are forged under the influence of structural factors, such as poverty and globalization, and can best be understood within specific evolving historical contexts [
      • Bonvillain N.
      Women and men: Cultural constructs of gender.
      ,
      • Kimmel M.
      The gendered society.
      ].
      Gender socialization is intensified with the onset of puberty which triggers increased reinforcement of social expectations and pressures from family, peers, and society to conform to hegemonic sex-typed identities and roles [
      • Hill J.
      • Lynch M.
      The intensification of gender-related role expectations during early adolescence.
      ]. During this life stage gender, stereotypes are taught and enforced through punishment and rewards in day-to-day interaction with adolescents [
      • Igras S.M.
      • Macieira M.
      • Murphy E.
      • Lundgren L.
      Investing in very young adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health.
      ]. Early adolescence is thus a unique window of opportunity for intervention before gender norms are solidified.
      There is a paucity of empirical evidence on early adolescents and the factors that influence their gender attitudes, beliefs, and subsequent behaviors as well as processes of intergenerational transmission. This study is part of the multicountry Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS), which has sites spread across five continents (15 countries). The GEAS focuses on early adolescents in the context of the re-emergence of an “urban health penalty,” whereby adolescents living in poor urban neighborhoods suffer heightened risk of negative sexual health outcomes [
      • Potts D.
      Urban lives: Adopting new strategies and adapting rural links.
      ].
      We selected Delhi and Shanghai from the GEAS sites for this analysis because of manifested gender disparities and strong son preference which have resulted in a skewed sex ratio at birth for many generations. Both China and India's skewed sex ratio at birth began to increase in the late 1980s and stood at 118 and 110, respectively, in 2011, above the normal of 105 male births per 100 female births [
      United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
      Sex imbalances at birth: Current trends, consequences and policy implications.
      ,
      • Jejeebhoy S.J.
      • Basu S.
      • Acharya R.
      • Zavier A.J.F.
      Gender-biased sex selection in India: A review of the situation and interventions to counter the practice.
      ]. Adolescents aged 10–14 years number about 350 million, comprising eight percent of Asia's population. Among this percentage, a little less than three fifths (58%) reside in China and India [
      United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division
      World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, custom data acquired via website.
      ]. However, no studies have compared the gender socialization process among early adolescents in these two settings.
      Systematic research on the factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence highlights the need for research focusing on low- and middle-income countries like China and India [
      • Kågesten A.
      • Gibbs S.
      • Blum R.W.
      • et al.
      Understanding factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence globally: A mixed-methods systematic review.
      ]. The specific objectives of this article were to expand our understanding of (1) what gender norms are transmitted to boys and girls and by whom; (2) how these norms are transmitted and whether this process differs by sex; and (3) what differences and similarities in gender socialization are manifested in two urban settings in Asian countries with diverse cultural, political, and economic contexts.

      Methods

       Study design

      Narrative in-depth interviews with adolescents and their parents as well as group-based timeline exercises with adolescents were conducted. In the timeline exercise, respondents provided a time line of a typical boy or girl in their community and described the changes they experience and the challenges they face from childhood until the moment they perceive as the end of adolescence [
      • Tolman D.L.
      • Brydon-Miller M.
      Transforming psychology: Interpretive and participatory research methods.
      ,
      • Mmari K.
      • Blum R.W.
      • Atnafou R.
      • et al.
      Exploration of gender norms and socialization among early adolescents: The use of qualitative methods for the Global Early Adolescent Study.
      ]. Study participants were purposively selected. In Delhi, a slum was selected where the study team had previously conducted research with 15- to 19-year-olds. A house-listing exercise was conducted to identify adolescents aged 11–13 years from the selected neighborhood. Subsequently, trained researchers invited the parent/guardian of eligible adolescents to participate in the study, after verifying that they had a child between 11 and 13 years of age residing in the geographic boundaries of the study site. In Shanghai, community workers who were familiar with adolescents in the community helped in identifying participants, according to the selection criteria that trained researchers provided. Once parents provided informed consent for themselves and their children to participate (read to them if they were illiterate), researchers met with the children to obtain their oral assent. In addition, adolescent participants were asked for names and contact information of friends residing in the same area to expand the sample.
      Adolescents and their parents were interviewed separately. Each interview lasted for an hour and was conducted in a private setting. Data collection was conducted in April and May 2015 in Delhi and in August 2014 in Shanghai using identical research protocols. All interviews were digitally recorded with participant permission. Study investigators were well versed in Hindi/Chinese and English and transcribed the interviews within 3 days of conducting the interview. To ensure quality, field coordinators made frequent site visits to monitor data collection. Local principal investigators conducted daily debriefing sessions to identify and resolve challenges and randomly compared excerpts of the voice files to the translated transcripts.
      The research protocol was approved by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Institutional Review Board and subsequently at the Centre for Media Studies in India and Population Council's ethics review committee and the Shanghai Institute of Planned Parenthood Research.

       Study settings

      In Delhi, the research was based in one of the largest slums in the East Delhi district, bordering the state of Haryana. The residents of the selected area were permanent settlers inhabited by migrant families from different rural parts of the country. They were socially and economically disadvantaged, lacking basic amenities such as water and sanitation. In Shanghai, a less developed subdistrict in Putuo district was selected as the study site. Low-income families eligible for social security, including migrant families, resided in that area.

       Data analysis

      Voice recordings were transcribed from regional languages and translated to English and uploaded in Atlas.ti (Scientific Software, Berlin; version 7). Inductive thematic analysis was used to develop an initial core code list which was revised to create a final code list, including site-specific subcodes [
      • Braun V.
      • Clarke V.
      Using thematic analysis in psychology.
      ]. Transcripts were first open coded followed by axial coding to link codes with their subcodes. At each site, two researchers coded the transcripts and the timelines and intercoder reliability checks were conducted. Following this were discussions to rule out any discrepancies and reach consensus. Themes related to “gender socialization” across adolescents and parents were compared across sites, and matrices were used to identify patterns.

      Results

       Background characteristics of the study sample

      Table 1 presents the sociodemographic characteristics of the adolescents and their parents who participated in the study. This current analysis is based on 16 group-based timeline exercises, narrative interviews with 31 adolescents (16 boys and 15 girls) from Delhi, and 34 adolescents (17 boys and 17 girls) from Shanghai aged 11–13 years. Narrative interviews with parents were also analyzed (24 parents from Delhi and 34 from Shanghai). Most adolescents interviewed were Hindu in Delhi (27) and ethnic Han in Shanghai (33) and were raised in two-parent families across the two sites. In both sites, adolescents had been to school and more than half had completed class/grade 6–8 (19 of 31 from Delhi and 23 of 34 from Shanghai). The majority of parents interviewed in Delhi were between the ages of 25–44 years, whereas parents in Shanghai were older, mostly between the ages 35–54 years. The educational level of parents in Delhi and Shanghai also differed substantially; about two fifths of the Delhi sample (10) had no formal education while about three fourth of the parents in Shanghai either had incomplete (12) or completed high school (10).
      Table 1Description of study participants
      CharacteristicsDelhiShanghai
      Adolescent sample
       Sex
      Male1617
      Female1517
       Ages
      111010
      121015
      13119
       Race/ethnicity
      Hindu27
      Muslim1
      Christian3
      Ethnic Han33
      Minority (Mongol)1
       Family structure
      Two parents3129
      Single parent3
      Other (living with grandparents)2
       Education level
      Class 3–512
      Class 6–819
      Grade 4–511
      Grade 6–723
      Parent/guardian sample
       Ages
      18–2400
      25–34102
      35–441220
      45–5419
      55+3
      NA1
       Relationship to adolescent
      Mother1418
      Father1013
      Grandparent30
       Education level
      No formal education10
      Class 1–53
      Class 6–82
      Class 107
      Class 121
      NA1
      <HS12
      Completed HS10
      Trade/vocational3
      Some college4 (3-year college)
      Completed college5 (4-year university)
       Marital status
      Married2429
      Single0
      Divorced/widowed/separated5
      HS = high school; NA = not available.

       What Norms are Transmitted? Who Transmits Them?

       Girls should dress appropriately, while boys have more freedom in their attire

      In Delhi, norms related to gender identities for girls were focused on dressing “appropriately.” This was not, however, a salient norm in Shanghai. According to both adolescents and parents in Delhi, restrictions on clothing by parents and elders on girls aged 11–13 years were key in defining feminine identity. Adolescents—especially girls—felt that both mothers and fathers were equally influential in shaping gender identities relating to appropriate dress. Parents, however, emphasized the role of mothers in enforcing norms related to appropriate attire. “Appropriate clothing” was defined as covering up the body to protect girls from unwanted sexual attention. Once they entered puberty, girls were not allowed to wear short clothes/skirts or attire worn by the boys like jeans and tank tops. Any clothing that revealed body structures (breast development in girls) was forbidden as it might arouse men's sexual desire. Most of the adolescents and some parents mentioned that salwar kameez (traditional Indian dress) with chunni (long scarf) was appropriate for girls once they entered puberty. Girls who violated this rule were punished. No similar restrictions on the ways boys dressed were mentioned by adolescents or parents.Girls are not supposed to fight with their parents….They should wear proper clothes like salwar kameez (traditional Indian dress) which cover their body well. When they (girls) are small they can wear any clothes, but as girls grow up they have to wear covered clothes, talk in a certain manner. [Girl in Delhi, age 12]

       Girls should behave like “ladies” and boys should be brave and tough

      While neither parents nor adolescents in Shanghai addressed rigid norms regarding dress to the extent they did in Delhi, they did emphasize that adolescent girls are expected to display lady-like demeanor including proper posture, self-respect, and self-discipline. A girl should straighten her back and raise her head when sitting and standing, be calm, gentle and quiet, and respect herself. Violating these norms would damage her personal and family honor. Boys in Shanghai were taught to be brave, strong and tough “like a hero,” while also responsible and considerate and gentle and polite to girls.I always cross my legs when having dinner. Then my dad patted on my leg and said I mustn’t do it outside. It's not the thing a good girl should do. I asked him why he and my elder brother can do it but I can't. He replied “because you are a girl” [Girl in Shanghai, age 11 yrs]

       Girls should prepare for the roles of wife and mother, while boys should concentrate on their careers

      In Delhi, girls were prepared for the roles of wife and mother by learning household chores as early as 8 years of age. Boys, on the other hand, were prepared to take up jobs and provide and protect their families. It was noted by both adolescents and parents that girls were controlled more than boys, as girls need more protection and the family honor depends on their behavior.Parents also tell her (girls) not to go out alone. She will not be allowed to do a job. I really don’t understand why girls are not allowed to go out of the house. The girls are also not educated. [Girl in Delhi, age 11]Yes, my mother and father asks me to do some work such as cleaning house, washing dishes, and also washing clothes. Father also says that I should learn cooking, as it will benefit me later. [Girl in Delhi, age 12]
      In contrast, many parents in Shanghai expected both their sons and daughters to do well in school and prepare for a career. Nevertheless, there were also several parents in Shanghai who held the view that a girl should focus primarily on her family while a boy prepares for his career.

       Girls and boys should not interact

      In both Delhi and Shanghai, restrictions imposed on girls regarding boy/girl relationships were manifested in multiple ways ranging from not playing with boys, talking/looking at boys, making opposite-sex friends, interacting/fighting, or forming romantic relationships.
      In Delhi, most of the adolescents, especially the girls, explained that they were not supposed to look at or talk to boys as this might raise suspicion that they were initiating romantic relationships. Parents raised concerns that talking to boys might get their daughters in trouble, for example, from an unwanted pregnancy or spoil the family honor. Both adolescents and parents stated that forming romantic relationships was forbidden and would be punished severely if violated. Adolescents explained that girls are taught not to play with, fight, or interact in any way with boys after puberty. Parents had similar perspectives. Most adolescents noted that boys were instructed not to talk to girls or even look at them and were taught not to tease or rape girls. Some adolescents reported that boys were not allowed to form romantic relationships and would be punished for doing so. Most parents cited concern that their sons should not form romantic relationships or tease girls in a sexual way.I don’t make friends with boys as my parents asked me not to, they (boys) are dirty. They (boys) start teasing and doing certain things. [Girl in Delhi, age 12]While he (my son) plays, I see him playing with young and old girls on which I do often tell him not to play, but then he reassures me that he will not do anything wrong. [Mother of 12-year boy in Delhi, age 40]
      Similar findings were found in Shanghai:So did your teacher ever talk to you about relationships?Yes, she says boys and girls better not, stay together often as they are different. [Girl in Shanghai, age 11]
      Adolescents in Delhi felt that both mothers and fathers played an equally important role in socializing boys and girls regarding proper behavior related to boy-girl relationships. Their parents, however, emphasized the role of mothers in transmitting norms related to boy-girl relationship, although they also mentioned the influence of fathers and peers, especially for boys.

       Gender Socialization Process

      Overall in Delhi and Shanghai, adolescents and their parents identified mothers as the most important actor in the socialization process, although fathers were mentioned as well—especially in relationship to boys. They also discussed the influence of teachers, as well as siblings, extended families and peers, although in a more limited role than parents. The primary processes of socialization referred to were instruction, encouragement, and positive reinforcement. Scolding, punishment such as shaming in front of peers, and beating by parents and teachers were cited by boys and girls in Shanghai.I think guidance is still the most important thing. If nobody reminds him, he doesn’t know what is right and what is wrong. So parents should guide them. Also their friends, relatives and teachers should guide them. Then the kids will know. If you didn’t tell the kid that this is wrong, he wouldn’t know it. …when the teacher praised his friend, he may think that what his friend did was excellent, then he would follow his friends. I guess he would think like this. [Father, 32 ys, primary school education, has a daughter of 13 ys]
      Adolescents and adults in both settings reported that beating and scolding were often used to enforce norms, especially those related to boy/girl relationships. Physical punishment was more marked in Delhi and more commonly used with boys than girls.Mother and Father beats me if I talk too much with girls as I have heard that if a boy talks with a girl in our neighborhood then the girl's father lodges a police complaint against the boy. [Boy in Delhi, age 11]
      From the perspective of teachers and parents, imitation of others, especially peers and media characters who conformed to stereotyped gender identities, was instrumental in the socialization process. In both settings, but especially in Shanghai, parents expressed concerns that media (romantic soaps) influenced the interaction between boys and girls in Shanghai.While kids nowadays begin to watch Korean drama from early age, right? Talking about romantic drama, bluntly speaking, we had no exposure to kissing scenes at all when we were young. We didn’t even know how it works at that time. The present kids, no matter girls or boys, they watch these things a lot more and much earlier than us. Thus, I think kids nowadays are more mature comparing to our old time. [Father, 53 ys, high school, has a son of 12 ys]

      Discussion

      Femininities and masculinities are historically, socially, and economically constructed and reconstructed through a process of complex social interactions with peers, parents, family members, and social institutions, under the influence of broader structural factors. This study sought to understand the process of gender norm socialization during early adolescence from the point of view of parents and children living in two urban, low-income Asian sites with long-standing gender disparities—Delhi and Shanghai. The results reveal a framework of sex-differentiated practices that are consistent with societally determined gender stereotypes. The culturally influenced settings in which children grow up, the individuals they spend time with, the tasks they are assigned, and the way parents and other socialization agents interact with them, influence the development of gender-related behaviors.
      Our findings reveal that boys and girls growing up in the same community are socialized differently during their transition from early to later adolescence. In both sites, for example, boys, in contrast to girls, spent time outside their home in undirected activities, taking advantage of the opportunity to explore their environment and develop dominant behaviors. Gender inequitable norms related to dress, demeanor, roles (education and career) and boy-girl relationships are transmitted by instruction, beating and scolding, as well as positive reinforcement and mitigation. Interactions with the opposite sex were tightly controlled for boys and girls in both countries during early adolescence. This may be due to the fear of pregnancy, which would jeopardize family honor and may put in play a series of lifelong negative physical and emotional consequences.
      Adolescents and their parents identified mothers as the primary socialization agent [
      • Kågesten A.
      • Gibbs S.
      • Blum R.W.
      • et al.
      Understanding factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence globally: A mixed-methods systematic review.
      ], but fathers, siblings, extended families, and peers also played important roles. These results are consistent with early cross-cultural research on socialization which demonstrated the influential roles of parents, siblings, peers, and task assignment on learning gender and suggested that socialization processes operating throughout the life course can increase, reduce, or eliminate gendered behavioral differences [
      • Best D.
      The contributions of the whitings to the study of the socialization of gender.
      ].
      Despite the many similarities between Delhi and Shanghai, both societies rooted in patriarchal privilege, there were notable differences. In Delhi, girls were more restricted than boys in all areas, and expectations for educational and career achievement were somewhat more gender equitable in Shanghai. Recognition of the influence of evolving political and economic contexts on social norms and the fabric of values, attitudes, and beliefs that hold them in place is key to understanding the social construction of gender identity. China and India have both experienced rapid economic growth over recent decades, along with parallel social transformations. Parents endeavor to pass on traditional norms rooted in their religious and moral upbringing, yet the broader social, economical, and political context also contributes to developing gender identities of their children.
      In Shanghai, expectations of appropriate male and female behavior are influenced by the underlying cultural beliefs/values shared in traditional Confucian doctrine. For over two thousand years in feudal society in China, Confucianism strictly dictated appropriate or expected behaviors for everyone by its core of “three relationships, five constants” (san gang, wu chang), namely the relationship between emperor and minister, father and son, or husband and wife, as well as the virtues of humaneness (ren), righteousness (yi), etiquette (li), wisdom (zhi), and integrity (xin). In addition, particular doctrines of “three obediences and “four virtues” (san cong, si de) were placed on women, linking gender roles to unequal gender stratification or the unequal distribution of power and resources between men and women [
      • Xiayun Z.
      • Chaohua L.
      • Ersheng G.
      • et al.
      Gender differences in adolescent premarital sexual permissiveness in three Asian cities: Effects of gender-role attitudes.
      ]. That is, traditionally, women were subordinate to men in every stage of life: daughters to their fathers, wives to their husbands, and widows to their sons. Females were required to have good morality, proper speech, modest manners, learn homemaking skills, and work diligently in the family.
      Despite the longevity of this vibrant moral foundation, this research suggests that norms are evolving in Shanghai; adolescent girls are expected to fulfill high expectations for educational achievement and future economic independence while still caring for their family. The seemingly ambivalent gender expectations of women were affected synthetically by the tradition of filial piety, the one-child policy, and China's social security system. According to the tradition of filial piety, children are expected to care for their parents and provide assistance to their families [
      • Li X.
      • Zou H.
      • Liu Y.
      • et al.
      The relationships of family socioeconomic status, parent–adolescent conflict, and filial piety to adolescents’ family functioning in Mainland China.
      ]. Due to the one-child policy, family support networks have shrunk dramatically. Given the limited social security system, provision and caring for the aged must rely on the children, female, or male. Independence is thus a required trait for adolescents, including girls. As these results demonstrate, however, traditional gender norms are still in play. These dual expectations may result in conflict between family and work, as demonstrated in other studies which document conflict between family and work [
      • Yang Y.
      Gender and engineering career development of hotel's employees in China.
      ] and may have a negative influence on career development [
      • Wang W.
      • Cho T.
      Work-family conflict influences on female’s career development through career expectation.
      ].
      Long-lasting religious and moral values, attitudes, and beliefs also influence expectations for appropriate gendered behavior in India, along with the economic realities guiding marriage. Some argue that within Indian families, women have been responsible for the upkeep of family honor [
      • Kallivayalil D.
      Gender and cultural socialization in Indian immigrant families in the United States.
      ]. In Delhi, once a girl attains puberty, her family is concerned with protecting her chastity, preventing elopement and fears stigma from losing family honor. These concerns may be related to restrictions on dress, mobility, and interactions with boys and eventually early marriage [
      • UNICEF
      Delaying marriage for girls in India: A formative research to design interventions to change norms.
      ,
      • Santhya K.G.
      • Jejeebhoy S.J.
      • Saeed I.
      • et al.
      Growing up in rural India: An exploration into the lives of younger and older adolescents in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
      ]. Girls have the power to protect the family honor or destroy the family through their premarital sex, and thus, their dress and behavior are restricted. In India, girls are often considered a financial burden due to the dowry they must provide to their husband's family. Proving chastity is requisite to the marriage process, so families control their daughters closely to make sure they are eligible for marriage [
      • Ram U.
      • Strohschein L.
      • Gaur K.
      Gender socialization: differences between male and female youth in India and associations with mental health.
      ]. Girls are taught early that their place is in the home, serving men who are the authorities in the household [
      • Ram U.
      • Strohschein L.
      • Gaur K.
      Gender socialization: differences between male and female youth in India and associations with mental health.
      ]. Boys mature in a male-dominated context, developing a sense of masculinity characterized by male dominance. These expectations support practices such as early marriage and coercive sexual relations. Gender role differentials widen during adolescence, as boys enjoy privileges reserved for men such as autonomy, mobility, and opportunity, whereas girls find their mobility and education restricted [
      • Verma R.
      • Pulerwitz J.
      • Mahendra V.
      • et al.
      Challenging and changing gender attitudes among young men in Mumbai, India.
      ].
      This study shows that despite significant modernization underway in both India and China, entrenched gender inequities flowing from dominant patriarchal structures persist, with potential long-term negative outcomes for adolescents. Results illustrate the interplay between the efforts of parents to inculcate traditional values and norms, such as those related to purity and modesty, and the influence of structural transformations bringing expanded economic roles for women. Increased understanding of this dynamic process provides insight into opportunities to increase gender equality. Children learn about gender by watching and imitating those around them and through explicit instruction, discipline, and sanctions. Thus, it is important to work with parents and communities, as well as with the children themselves, to foster critical reflection of the negative consequences of gender inequity and offer alternative ways of performing masculine and feminine roles. Efforts to bring about more equitable gender norms would lay a foundation for improved health and well-being over the life course [
      • McCarthy K.
      • Brady M.
      • Hallman K.
      Investing when it counts: Reviewing the evidence and charting a course of research and action for very young adolescents.
      ]. Such programs have been limited in number, scale and impact. Information from longitudinal studies on gender socialization across different cultural settings would inform the design of gender transformative programming.

      Funding Sources

      This work was undertaken as part of the Global Early Adolescent Study, a 15-country study lead by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in collaboration with 15 global institutions. It was funded in part by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation , the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation , and United States Agency for International Development through the World Health Organization (grant no. 2016/625678 ), and in part by the William H. Gates Sr. Endowed Professorship and Ford Foundation (grant no. G66010327 ).

      References

        • Heise L.L.
        • Kotsadam A.
        Cross-national and multilevel correlates of partner violence: An analysis of data from population-based surveys.
        Lancet Glob Health. 2015; 3: e332-e340
        • Peacock D.
        • Barker G.
        Working with men and boys to prevent gender-based violence: Principles, lessons learned, and ways forward.
        Men Masc. 2014; 17: 578-599
        • Hill J.
        • Lynch M.
        The intensification of gender-related role expectations during early adolescence.
        in: Brooks-Gunn J. Petersen A. Girls at Puberty: Biological and psychosocial perspectives. Plenum Springer US, New York1983: 201-228
        • Giddens A.
        Sociology.
        5th edition. Polity Press, Cambridge2006: 392
      1. Lundgren R. The cultural ecology of youth and gender-based violence in Northern Uganda. Digital Repository at the University of Maryland. 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.13016/M2QC9C. Accessed May 30, 2017.

      2. International Centre for Research on Women (ICRW). ‘The Girl Effect: What do boys have to do with it?’, Briefing note for an Expert Meeting and Workshop. 2010. Washington, DC, 5–6 October.

        • Lou C.
        • Cheng Y.
        • Gao E.
        Media’s contribution to sexual knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors for adolescents and young adults in three Asian cities.
        J Adolesc Health. 2012; 50: S26-S36
        • Bonvillain N.
        Women and men: Cultural constructs of gender.
        Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey1995
        • Kimmel M.
        The gendered society.
        Oxford University Press, New York2008
        • Igras S.M.
        • Macieira M.
        • Murphy E.
        • Lundgren L.
        Investing in very young adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health.
        Glob Public Health. 2014; 9: 555-569
        • Potts D.
        Urban lives: Adopting new strategies and adapting rural links.
        in: Rakodi C. The Urban Challenge in Africa: Growth and Management of its Large Cities. United Nations University Press, Tokyo, Japan1997: 447-494
        • United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)
        Sex imbalances at birth: Current trends, consequences and policy implications.
        UNFPA, Bangkok, Thailand2012
        • Jejeebhoy S.J.
        • Basu S.
        • Acharya R.
        • Zavier A.J.F.
        Gender-biased sex selection in India: A review of the situation and interventions to counter the practice.
        Population Council, New Delhi2015
        • United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division
        World Population Prospects: The 2015 Revision, custom data acquired via website.
        2015 (Available at:) (Accessed June 29, 2016)
        • Kågesten A.
        • Gibbs S.
        • Blum R.W.
        • et al.
        Understanding factors that shape gender attitudes in early adolescence globally: A mixed-methods systematic review.
        PLoS One. 2016; 1: e015780
        • Tolman D.L.
        • Brydon-Miller M.
        Transforming psychology: Interpretive and participatory research methods.
        J Soc Issues. 1997; 53: 597-603
        • Mmari K.
        • Blum R.W.
        • Atnafou R.
        • et al.
        Exploration of gender norms and socialization among early adolescents: The use of qualitative methods for the Global Early Adolescent Study.
        J Adolesc Health. 2017; 61: S12-S18
        • Braun V.
        • Clarke V.
        Using thematic analysis in psychology.
        Qual Res Psychol. 2006; 3: 77-101
        • Best D.
        The contributions of the whitings to the study of the socialization of gender.
        J Cross Cult Psychol. 2010; 41: 534-545
        • Xiayun Z.
        • Chaohua L.
        • Ersheng G.
        • et al.
        Gender differences in adolescent premarital sexual permissiveness in three Asian cities: Effects of gender-role attitudes.
        J Adolesc Health. 2012; 50: S18-S25
        • Li X.
        • Zou H.
        • Liu Y.
        • et al.
        The relationships of family socioeconomic status, parent–adolescent conflict, and filial piety to adolescents’ family functioning in Mainland China.
        J Child Fam Stud. 2014; 23: 29-38
        • Yang Y.
        Gender and engineering career development of hotel's employees in China.
        Syst Eng Proced. 2011; 1: 365-371
        • Wang W.
        • Cho T.
        Work-family conflict influences on female’s career development through career expectation.
        J Hum Res Sustain Stud. 2013; 01: 43-50
        • Kallivayalil D.
        Gender and cultural socialization in Indian immigrant families in the United States.
        Fem Psychol. 2004; 14: 535-559
        • UNICEF
        Delaying marriage for girls in India: A formative research to design interventions to change norms.
        UNICEF, New Delhi2011
        • Santhya K.G.
        • Jejeebhoy S.J.
        • Saeed I.
        • et al.
        Growing up in rural India: An exploration into the lives of younger and older adolescents in Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.
        Population Council, New Delhi2013
        • Ram U.
        • Strohschein L.
        • Gaur K.
        Gender socialization: differences between male and female youth in India and associations with mental health.
        Int J Publ Res. 2014; 2014: 1-11
        • Verma R.
        • Pulerwitz J.
        • Mahendra V.
        • et al.
        Challenging and changing gender attitudes among young men in Mumbai, India.
        Reprod Health Matters. 2006; 14: 135-143
        • McCarthy K.
        • Brady M.
        • Hallman K.
        Investing when it counts: Reviewing the evidence and charting a course of research and action for very young adolescents.
        Population Council, New York2016