Gender Labor Division


Cro-Magnons replace Neanderthals

45,000 bc - 30,000 bc

First successful example of gender roles creating competitive edge.
-Women gathered plants, fruits, grains, etc.
-Cro-Magnon females focused on raising children away from large prey hunting, creating greater chance of survival to reproductive age

These early societies are primarily egalitarian, in some cases matriarchal. Males were often gone on hunting trips and it was often Females who organized and made decisions for the tribes.

Paleolithic Period

30,000 bc - 10,000 bc

-Males continue to leave home for extended hunting trips
-Females stay home to raise children and fulfill gathering role of hunter/gatherer diet

The main advancements of this time period are making tools from stone and beginning to domesticate plants, animals, etc. Communities start to settle rather than continue nomadic lifestyles.


3500 bc - 1100 bc

Early Mesopotamia began as an egalitarian society. Gradually it became patriarchal due to men working in professions outside the home and women continuing to maintain the households.

-Only the wealthy received education
-Domesticating animals and agriculture allowed men to stay close to home
-Competitive instinct from centuries of hunting remained intact
-Organized society and build up of politics led to male dominance effect


753 bc - 1453 ad

Ancient Rome is arguably the pinnacle of patriarchal society. Women had no say in social or family matters whatsoever.

The father gave final say as to whether or not a child was allowed to live once carried to term (usually only a case if the child were deformed or sickly).

According to the Twelve Tables (Roman Code of Law), a woman must constantly be under either the protection of a father or husband. Seeing as a woman could never climb social ranks through military valor, all gains were made by marriage.

As the Empire continues to age, Roman patriarchy loosens and begins to show small amounts of emancipation for women, however, at this point in Western cultural development the roles between men and women remain quite similar to pre-existing civilizations.

Dark Ages

500 - 1000

Rome's Collapse leaves Europe in the Dark Ages, a time of confusion and readjustment to smaller ruling states. Major warring conflict over disputed territories sets back developments in learning and social progression for nearly three centuries.

Learning falls into massive decline throughout the Western World as many of the leading scientists and thinkers retreated to the city of Rome.

Governmental instability leads to the church taking over and setting the ruling standards. Medieval Anglican Christianity teaches that women are subservient to men and may hold the occupations of wife, mother, nun, and artisan.

Spreading the word of Christ sends men off to the Crusades for extended periods of time, while the women continue to stay at home tending to children and basic familial needs (similar trends to Cro-Magnon society). This hiccup in time forces humans in Europe nearly back to square one.

Nearing the end of the Dark Ages, one of the final tasks for returning Crusaders is to regain control of Jerusalem from Islamic rule. During the battles soldiers are exposed to the art and creativity brought forth by Islam. When these soldiers return home a new movement filled with art and expression comes forth proudly known as the Renaissance.


1400 - 1550

The Renaissance Era moves gender roles forward at a steady pace.

-Male dominance continues to base all political and social systems
-Fathers and husbands control all legal aspects of a woman's life
-Women have no legal rights and remain "property" to men
-For a woman to hold public office or an education is viewed as scandalous

The distinct change found in the Renaissance era is found in far more positive views towards women. The integrated artistic role in society views women as beautiful. While men hold all political, educational, religious, and business careers- a woman's job in the Renaissance was to remain beautiful.

A slight social change which will quietly set the stage for future progressive generations also improves the marriage system in the Renaissance time period itself. Women are socially held accountable for marriage virtues, but now men are as well.


1700 - 1789

Momentum from the reformation sends women into the Age of Enlightenment with purpose. The printing press is open and women are utilizing every tool to express their opinions. With the social climate still shifting, it is not uncommon to see a woman printing in her husband's name.

Coffee houses and Salons are common meeting places for men and now women who are beginning to discuss politics and philosophy.

Education continues to be a luxury for the elite, however the liberal movement for women's equality and education is strongly pushed by Enlightenment philosophers.

Modern Era

1790 - Present

Societal norms have been on an equating trend since the Enlightenment. Through the progressive era and both World War's women have been on the fast track to co-dominating what was once a "man's world".

-Women earn 60 percent of degrees awarded annually
-Majority of Women in the Western World are offered the same amount of suffrage and education as men

Not much stands in the way for the modern era to return to an egalitarian society. The main issues of concern are no longer constitutional rather psychological and ethical. As society is encouraging women to find there place in the professional workforce it must also be remembered that men are adjusting to these changes in expectations as well.
Current familial challenges include:
-Quality childcare
-Health (Stress, Nutrition, Obesity, etc.)
-Connection (increased divorce rates)