ISSN: 2319-5835 

Gender Differences in Caregiving: An Exploration among Families of Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Corresponding Author: Tanya Vats, Research Scholar, Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh

KEYWORDS Caregiving, Gender, Autism, Family, Sibling

Background: Caregiving for family members falls under the broad category of informal or unpaid care. In the presence of limited formal services and a dearth of affordable services for individuals with disabilities and life-long disorders, informal caregivers, mostly families, continue to be burdened with caregiving.  Previous studies have pointed towards gender disparities in terms of the role men and women take up, the time they devote to caregiving and the responsibilities they shoulder, which, along with gender stereotypes, are problematic affecting care outcomes. However, there is limited research on gender roles in caregiving intersecting with lifelong disorders.  

Objective: With this background, the present study is an attempt to examine these gender differences in long-term caregiving for a family member with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) from the lens of the experiences of the parents and siblings of such individuals, residing in the Chandigarh-Tricity area of India.
Methodology: The present study is based upon a qualitative exploration which requires participants to reflect on their experiences. Assimilating primary data from 30 families who have an individual on the autism spectrum in their family, in-depth interviews were conducted with parents and siblings of individuals with ASD in these families. Purposive and snowball sampling techniques were used to gather information on the prospective families residing in the field area. In-depth interviews were then conducted with the aid of a self-designed interview guide.
Findings: The study provides insights into the different ways in which men and women assume caregiving responsibilities. The expected provision of care by these parents and siblings and the gender differences in the responsibilities are highlighted through different themes. Thematic analysis generated four themes that reflected significant gender differences in the type of duties performed, the centrality of women in the caregiving process, differences in the perceived burden, and the presence of ASD disrupting lives.
Conclusion: It was revealed that significant gender differences existed in the caregiving responsibilities, and although men play a role in caregiving for their children/siblings with ASD, their roles remain limited. Women are more exposed to the caregiving environment and were found to be shouldering major responsibilities.

Tanya Vats¹, Anil Kishore Sinha¹, Priti Arun²

¹Department of Anthropology, Panjab University, Chandigarh
²Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College & Hospital, Sector-32, Chandigarh

Frontier Anthropology, 2023, 12: 19-31
©Anthropological Society of Manipur


Original Article

Manuscript Timeline
Submitted: July 3, 2023
Accepted: October 12, 2023
Published: November 9, 2023