Tuesday, December 05, 2006

"Women's Work" Helped Humans Beat out Neanderthals

A new study talks about the advantage that having tasks that were divided by gender offered early humans. As opposed to their chief rivals, neanderthals, humans had parts of the economy that were generally performed by women. These tasks were absolutely essential to our progress, things like making more weather proof clothes, milling etc. According to the study neanderthal women worked at the same chores as men, meaning that failure in hunting was a much riskier thing. There was little room for error because all the members of the society were doing the same thing, and were not really specializing.

Of course neither the study nor I argue that there have to be women's roles or men's roles today. But it's interesting to read that by dividing up the chores and allowing for a more diverse economy our ancestors were able to thrive. I fear that it'll be used to argue for a "woman's place" or things like that. But the simple notion that by diversifying we were able to survive, that's just fascinating to me.

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