Impact of Patriarchy on the Intra-Household Bargaining Power of Women

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Pie chart showing the qualification of the women Pie chart showing whether the respondents would give up their job for the sake of family responsibilities, fear of being judged and disliked by the family and society 68% of the respondents said that they would give up their job if they don’t have support from the family for child rearing as they fear that if they don’t have time for the family then they would be misjudged by the society and the family. The respondents were of the opinion that family should be any women’s first priority and they didn’t consider the option of putting the child in a crèche because they felt it is not safe.

32% of the respondents said that they would not give up their job as they felt that career and family should be given equal importance. Few among them said that they would rather work from than giving up their job entirely because that would bring down their status in the family. They were comfortable leaving their child at a crèche or day care but it was a bit of a struggle in convincing the elder members of the household.

Also, 60% of the respondents said that they don’t want to upset the ego of their husband by getting more paid and being in a higher career status than their husband despite being a post graduate or Ph. D holder. They said they would settle in for a less paid job so that they won’t have any conflicts in their marriage. They don’t mind sacrificing opportunities that might take them to a higher level in their career and few of them said that they have sacrificed such opportunities. In fact, one of the respondents remarked that

“If women are at a higher career status than their husband then women would tend to overpower or dominate men which is not good for the family. Today, more than male domination the society is being dominated by the women which is because of feminism”. 55% of the women said that they don’t want their husbands to have an equal share in the household work. In relation to this one of the respondents said that “Men are the breadwinners of the house and hence they should not be burdened with the household work as well. So, the women should try their best and not give tensions to the husband”. On the other hand, 30% of the women want their husbands to take charge of the housework so that they can have more time for their career. When asked if their husbands help them with the domestic work they were reluctant to answer.

Pie chart showing whether the respondents have a say on decisions related to financial matters and purchases 65% of the respondents said that their husbands have the most say on whether to buy an expensive item for the household or whether to buy land or property. These women said that their husbands do ask for their choices and opinions but the final decision lies with the men because they tend to invest more money into it. One of the women said that “My husband earns more than me and hence he has the right to take the final decision. This doesn’t bother me”. Also, they felt that they don’t have much knowledge in areas related to investment and asset acquisition. So, it is best that men take the decision.

35% of the respondents said that these decisions are jointly taken in such a way that it benefits the household and its members as they also put in equal amount of money to buy an expensive item or any asset. Who has most say on what to do when the child falls sick? 80% of the respondents said they have the most say on what to do when the child falls sick because they know more about the child than their husband as the mother spends more time with the child. Also, the mother tends to have a stronger emotional connect with the child than the father. When asked if the norm of only women taking care of the household should change the women were of the opinion that only women have the patience, tolerance and nurturing side to them. Men can’t handle the household. 20% of the respondents said that it is a joint decision. Their husbands take equal interest in the well-being of the child.

Who has most say on decision related to spending over a social function such as the child’s marriage, their school and college admission? 57% of the respondents said that their partners have the most say on how much to spend over their child’s marriage, school and college admission. And 43% of the women said that it was a joint decision

95% of the women said that they wouldn’t accept transfer opportunities even if they get a high pay as they were not comfortable with the idea of leaving behind their family and moving to a different place. 60% of them said that they were not allowed to take up transfers and this was mostly influenced by the elder members of the household. And, 80% of the respondents said that decisions regarding their choice of work was either taken by their father or husband. One of the women said “I wanted to become a scientist. But my father was very particular that I take up a job which is not very stressful, risky and easier to manage with family. So, I became a teacher”.

It is very clear from the primary data collected that patriarchy has restricted women to climb up the career ladder and hence it decreases their bargaining power. Also, the hierarchical dualism that women can’t take up hard jobs is also one of the reasons that women don’t reach leadership positions. Discrimination based on gender often called gender bias brings us face to face with hierarchical dualism.

  • Male Female
  • Reason emotion
  • Hard soft
  • Independent dependent
  • Separate connected
  • etc. etc.

This implies that masculinity gets the higher status, respect and more power to control, dominate and decide for the ‘weaker’ lower status which are the females. The sad part is that women themselves believe in this dualism which is clear from the data regarding decisions related to their children. The mother has the most say on what to do when the child falls sick because they believe that the mother is emotionally connected with the child and family but when it came to decisions regarding spending for the child the husband has the most say because spending decisions need to be rational and men are considered to be rational and reasonable. Again, this is a preconceived notion which even women seem to endorse.

Women who are in less paid jobs despite having a good qualification have less bargaining power in terms of financial decisions because they don’t have much resources in their hand when compared to their husbands. It is clearly evident from the data that women either go in for a less paid job or give up their job because of the patriarchal system and women are also part of this system. And this has a negative impact on their bargaining power Their epistemology strongly supports the patriarchal system and they don’t realize that they are being controlled and subordinated. Sheryl Sandberg said “We stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us, women who had to fight for the rights that we now take for granted”.

One of the respondents opined that “Women should not ask for equal rights as men and women can never be equal. It is like how Microsoft Windows and MacBook Air cannot be compared”. But this situation is slowly and gradually changing as few women have started to realize that patriarchy is very dangerous to the society and if left unattended it will spread like fire. The data shows that at least few women give equal importance to their career. They believe that it is necessary to strike a work life balance and the decisions of the household are jointly taken by them.

“It is no more the norm that only women should take care of the family and children. It is changing for the better. Today, spouses are more supportive of their wife’s career. They do take charge of the household work and children. Nowadays, most of the household decisions are jointly taken irrespective of whether the wife is working or not”.

We have seen how patriarchy influences women’s career choices. And this in turn affects their income. The women are ready to sacrifice their jobs for family requirements or settle in for less paid jobs. All these make them financially more dependent on their husband and therefore less bargaining power. So, if the marriage breaks the woman more to lose than her husband. Has education really helped women to overcome patriarchy in order to make better career choices and therefore lead to an increase in their bargaining power on household decisions?”

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Impact of Patriarchy on the Intra-Household Bargaining Power of Women. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from

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