Gender Socialization

  • Objective: To understand the differences between the expectations and activities assigned to boys and girls.
  • Materials/Preparation: Interview list. To shape the interview list and parameters, the research team defined age groupings and issues relevant to their context.
  • Participants: Household heads across well-being, ethnic, kinship, household composition categories, in interviews within the home.


Following introductions, the teams interviewed households across well-being categories to identify differences in how boys and girls are viewed or treated across age groups.

The facilitator first discusses distinct age ranges in the life of a child until marriage: How do you divide the stages of a child’s life from birth to marriage? What are the stages of a child’s life?




0-6 years

  • Birth rituals and celebrations
  • Behaviors/showing emotions
  • Food distribution

6-12 years

  • Division of labor
  • Mobility
  • School attendance

12-14 (girls, 12-20 (boy)

  • Education at puberty
  • Resource allocation and dowry and marriage preparations
0-3 years

  • Birth rituals and celebrations
  • Healthcare
  • Behaviors/showing emotions
  • Clothing, games and toys
  • Food distribution and care

4-5 years

  • Division of labor/skills
  • Food distribution and care
  • School attendance

6-15 (girls, 12-20 (boy)

  • Education at puberty
  • Initiation rites
  • Mobility
  • Marriage


  • Division of labor
  • Bride-price and marriage arrangements

For each stage, the interviewer asks about investment, practices or expectations around each age category and events.

In Tanzania, teams discussed:

For boys and girls, what are distinguishing features in stage 1 where you treat them differently?

  • Is there anything different about birth on how boys and girls are treated? Why?
    • Probe→ Follow up on how boys and girls are treated across.
  • What about in stage 1: feeding, clothing, interacting, learning to walk, learning to talk? How do fathers and mothers interact with boys and girls? Why?
  • When a child is sick, is there a difference on how he or she is treated? Why?
  • What kind of knowledge and skills are girls supposed to have? And boys?

In Stage 2, differences in education, clothing, mobility, household work, eating arrangements (who eats first) and types of food, freedom to be on one’s own or go out with friends, work and wages? Why are there these differences?

  • What kind of knowledge and skills do parents emphasize for girls and boys?

In the next stage,

  • Issues about education (distances and mobility, study time emphasis), division of labor, work and wages, food and clothing, spending money, ability to go anywhere alone? Probe → Why are there these differences?
  • Who teaches boys vs. girls about puberty and types of information given? And sexuality?
  • Initiation rites or transition into womanhood or manhood? When is someone considered adult?
  • What kind of knowledge and skills do parents emphasize for girls and boys?

Marriage stage

  • How are partners chosen and at what age on average do people marry? Why?
  • What preparations are made before a marriage, how is it different for boys and girls, why?
  • How is brideprice negotiated and what is the average brideprice? What does the girl get for the marriage? Why?
  • Who arranges for cost, location of celebration? Are number of guests involved different for a son’s or daughters’ marriage? Why?
  • What kind of knowledge and skills are girls supposed to have before marriage? Boys? Why?

In Bangladesh and Tanzania, teams probed into:

  • How practices or expectations have changed or are changing across time,
  • Who sets rules around these practices and who ensures they are followed,
  • What are outcomes for girls and boys in following these rules, and
  • If rules are broken, and consequences if this happens.

Analyzing across interviews, teams looked at how gender conditioning varied across class, kin, religion and ethnicity. Responses were used to illustrate how gender inequalities are socially embedded and were used as a starting point to discuss the basis of these differences, outcomes and possible changes.

In the Western Balkans, the Exploring Dimensions of Masculinity Workshop aimed to understand how adolescent voices viewed key influencers and effects of gender socialization:

  • Who is influential (e.g., family, peers, teachers) in shaping who you are as men?
  • Where (e.g., schools, religion, media) do you get messages about being men?
  • Which masculine attitudes, values and behaviors are rewarded and which are punished?n their opinion, which expectations for masculinity are beneficial and which are damaging?
  • When have they been able to make their own choices about how to vary from the expected attitudes and behaviors?



  • B Bode (2010). East Africa Regional Capacity Building Initiative in Situational Analysis. CARE International – East/Central Africa Regional Management Unit.
  • B Bode (2007). Disaggregating Communities through Social Analysis. CARE Bangladesh.
  • CARE and ICRW (2007). PLA Field Guide: Western Balkans Gender-Based Violence Initiative.