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What is the definition of gender discrimination?

Any action that excludes or disadvantages persons based on their gender is referred to as gender discrimination. It encompasses both purposeful and accidentally unfair actions.

Sexism, or prejudice based on sex or gender, fuels gender discrimination. Sexism devalues women and femininity while elevating men and masculinity in most cultures.

Because gender is determined by how a person feels rather than their biological qualities, anyone who identifies with a gender that their culture considers less valued may face gender discrimination. This encompasses transgender and gender-expansive individuals.



Gender discrimination examples

Discrimination based on gender can occur in one-on-one interactions as well as at the institutional or state level. It can happen in the following ways:

Discrimination in the workplace can take many forms, including deciding not to hire or promote someone, treating people unfairly, or underpaying them based on their gender. Peers can participate by, for example, barring female coworkers from critical meetings.

In schools, gender discrimination occurs when girls and young women are prevented or discouraged from engaging in traditionally male-dominated disciplines such as science, math, and athletics. Boys will be boys, thus schools may enforce gendered dress codes, punish individuals who do not comply to gender stereotypes, or neglect to discipline poor behavior.

In relationships, those who limit their partners from doing things because of their gender are being discriminatory. This could include prohibiting women from working, controlling their finances, or driving, to name a few examples.

In public: Sexual harassment and catcalling are both unwelcome and discriminatory practices. People may feel unsafe as a result of these activities, which may limit how they use public spaces. This restricts a person’s liberty.

Organizations, governments, and legal and healthcare systems can all establish regulations that discriminate against specific genders, whether purposefully or accidentally. Laws that allow gender-based violence to grow, punish people for expressing their gender, or financially harm particular groups are just a few examples.

It’s crucial to recognize that discrimination based on gender can occur alongside discrimination based on race, class, handicap, and sexuality.



Discrimination based on gender has a negative impact on mental health.

Gender discrimination is a cause of stress, and it can have a direct impact on mental health, just like any other stressor.

According to research by 2020 Trusted Source, women who reported suffering gender discrimination in the previous 12 months scored higher on a depression screening measure than others.

Discrimination can cause anxiety and psychological trauma depending on the circumstances.

The authors of the study claim that discrimination is a major factor in the “gender gap” in mental disease rates. Women are more likely than men to suffer from a variety of mental illnesses, including:

Women are 4–10 times more likely than men to suffer from eating problems.

Women are 1.5 times more likely than males to attempt suicide, despite the fact that men are 1.5 times more likely to die by suicide.

Biological factors may play a role in these inequalities in those who were born female. However, studies have revealed that in countries where men and women are treated equally, there are fewer gender variations in mental disease rates. This shows that injustice and prejudice are significant contributors to these discrepancies.

Gender disparity is a risk factor for gender-based violence, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Thirty percent of women globally have experienced physical or sexual assault at some point in their life, according to Trusted Source. The rate is much higher among trans individuals of color, those who have done sex work, experienced homelessness, or have a current or previous handicap, at 47 percent.

Abuse or assault of any kind can lead to a mental health problem, as well as other issues that are distressing in and of itself. If a person survives a sexual assault, for example, they may become pregnant, contract a sexually transmitted infection, or be socially outcast.



Discrimination based on gender has a negative impact on physical health.

Discrimination based on gender has both direct and indirect consequences on physical health. These are some of them:

  • Illness

  • According to several studies, being discriminated against is linked to poor physical health.

  • For example, according to a 2018 study, women who have experienced workplace discrimination, particularly sexual harassment, are more likely to report poor physical health.

  • Many chronic diseases, such as chronic pain, high blood pressure, and diabetes, can be exacerbated by stress of any kind.



Living situations that are less healthful

Gender discrimination can also result in a person’s living situations deteriorating and them having less access to the resources they require to survive and prosper.

In the United States, for example, the gender pay gap indicates that women earn less than males in general, even while doing the same employment. Women of color have a greater wage disparity.

In comparison to men, women have higher levels of college debt, fewer retirement savings, and higher rates of poverty.

Not only does this increase stress, but it also makes it more difficult to afford healthy food, secure home, and health insurance. As a result, there is health disparity, or unjust differences in the health of marginalized groups when compared to privileged groups.



Injury and death are both possible outcomes.

Discrimination that takes the form of violence has a direct effect on one’s health. FGM (female genital mutilation) is one such example.

FGM is the practice of removing part or all of a young woman’s genitalia when she is under the age of 15Trusted Source. FGM may be practiced in communities with the belief that it will make girls more pure and suitable for marriage, as well as less likely to engage in extramarital sex.

Those who survive the treatment may have significant pain, bleeding, infections, and sexual health issues for the rest of their lives. Complications claim the lives of some people.



Discrimination based on gender has a negative impact on healthcare.

Gender discrimination has a significant impact on healthcare, lowering treatment speed, accuracy, and quality. It has an impact on diagnosis and therapy in a variety of ways, including:

Dismissal of symptoms: In comparison to men’s pain, doctors are more likely to dismiss women’s chronic pain as psychological, exaggerated, or even made up, according to a 2018 reviewTrusted Source. People may be left without support or treatment as a result of this.

Diagnoses that are erroneous or delayed: Prejudices regarding gender might lead to people receiving incorrect diagnoses or having to wait years for a diagnosis. For example, according to a 2020 articleTrusted Source, diagnosing moderate hemophilia in females takes 6.5 months longer than diagnosing moderate hemophilia in males, and diagnosing severe hemophilia takes 39 months longer. Despite the fact that females are more prone than males to discover symptoms of bleeding disorders like hemophilia, this is the case.

Doctors often deny cis women access to birth contraception until they undergo annual pap screenings, according to 2017Trusted Source research. This type of manipulation is unethical and destructive since it takes away a person’s power to determine what happens to their body and when it happens.

Obstetric violence occurs when a woman who is giving birth is forced to have medical interventions without her consent. During childbirth, the word also refers to verbal and physical assault. According to a 2019 study by Trusted Source, 41.6 percent of women in Nigeria, Ghana, Guinea, and Myanmar experienced obstetric violence or abuse out of 2,016 observed births.

Healthcare employees, the majority of whom are women, are likewise subjected to gender discrimination. In a 2019 reportTrusted Source on the British Medical Association, for example, it was discovered that the organization engaged in pervasive discrimination against women, such as bullying and sexual harassment.

In the face of this discrimination, female doctors are just as capable as male doctors. Patients of female surgeons, for example, were 4 percent less likely to die within 30 days of a procedure than patients of male surgeons, according to a 2017 research. Each of the study’s patients had had one of 25 different types of surgery.