Gender discrimination refers to the practice of granting or denying rights or privileges to a person based on their gender. In some societies, this practice is longstanding and acceptable to both genders. Certain religious groups embrace gender discrimination as part of their dogma. However, in most industrialized nations, it is either illegal or generally considered inappropriate.
Attitudes toward gender discrimination can normally be traced back to the roots of certain segments of society. Much of the discrimination is attributed to stories such as a woman being made from man’s rib and societal practices such as dowries paid to fathers by prospective husbands to purchase their daughters to be wives. Countless literary fiction references are made to females being the fairer, weaker sex and males being the strong, invincible hunters of the world. The combined power of these societal and religious beliefs left little room for equitable thinking for centuries.
Although gender discrimination is traditionally viewed as a problem normally encountered by females, it has significantly affected males as well. Jobs customarily and historically held mainly by women were often denied to men based on social stigmas. Some of the more common jobs that fell into this category were nurses, childcare providers and flight attendants.
In the past few decades, gender discrimination has gained respect as a serious affront. It is frequently given as much credence as racial discrimination. Some countries and societies mete out relatively harsh punishments to those convicted of gender discrimination.
In countries where it's considered an affront, gender discrimination is also often difficult to prove. It is normally not as overtly evident as racial discrimination since the offender can claim other reasons a person was denied equal consideration. For instance, if a male claims he was not hired as a nurse based on his gender, the employer can simply maintain his qualifications were substandard or his personality was not a good fit with the rest of the staff. Such ambiguities frequently make it hard to prove gender discrimination.
In cases where the discriminatory act is repeated, legal action is customarily taken. These incidents commonly revolve around persons of a certain gender being summarily passed over for promotions by the same company. Another common scenario involves a gender-defined group being paid less for performing exactly the same job as the other gender.
Educational institutions and lending institutions were some of the first segments accused of this type of discrimination. Grants, loans and scholarships promoted as non-gender specific sometimes heavily favored one gender for reasons that were often more traditional than malicious. Bankers were once commonly instructed by their superiors to deny females loans and mortgages based on their gender and regardless of their assets or credit histories.