Study: Early Men and Women Were Equal in Tribal Society

The study opposes the notion that sexual equality is merely a goal of modern society that is mostly free of concerns over resource scarcity. 

Inequality among men and women is a feature of our post-agrarian society, not a quality inherent to earlier hunter-gatherer groups, according to new analyses done by anthropologists at University College London. The study opposes the notion that sexual equality is merely a goal of modern society that is mostly free of concerns over resource scarcity. 


The researchers examined how contemporary hunter-gatherer groups formed social relationships and self-organized, one in the Congo and one in the Philippines, "including kinship relations, movement between camps, and residence patterns, through hundreds of interviews."

They found that women had as much say as men concerning the group's most important decision, such as when to move on from an area and with whom the groups should socialize. Specifically, anthropologists believe women's influence resulted in larger and more diverse social networks — a quality that was surely advantageous form an evolutionary perspective. 

“When only men have influence over who they are living with, the core of any community is a dense network of closely related men with the spouses on the periphery,” said anthropologist Mark Dyble. “If men and women decide ... you come into contact with more people and you can share innovations, which is something that humans do par excellence.”

Only with the dawn of agriculture, when resources could be accumulated, did imbalances in influence emerge. At that point, it became advantageous to form alliances with other male-dominated groups that likewise hoarded resources. Researchers say that our post-agrarian society more closely resembles chimp societies than hunter-gather ones, since chimps live in male-dominated, highly stratified hierarchies.

Thankfully, organizations are increasingly realizing the benefits of creating a workforce that is sexually equal. As Tim Hanstad, president and CEO of Landesa, a nonprofit dedicated to securing land property rights for the world’s poorest people, explains, empowering women is a rising tide that lifts all boats. 


Read more at The Guardian

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less
Sponsored

Why Henry David Thoreau was drawn to yoga

The famed author headed to the pond thanks to Indian philosophy.

Image: Public Domain / Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
  • The famed author was heavily influenced by Indian literature, informing his decision to self-exile on Walden Pond.
  • He was introduced to these texts by his good friend's father, William Emerson.
  • Yoga philosophy was in America a century before any physical practices were introduced.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less
Photo: Shutterstock / Big Think
Personal Growth
    • A recent study from the Department of Health and Human Services found that 80 percent of Americans don't exercise enough.
    • Small breaks from work add up, causing experts to recommend short doses of movement rather than waiting to do longer workouts.
    • Rethinking what exercise is can help you frame how you move throughout your day.
    Keep reading Show less