The Science Of Feminism: 9 Studies Of Gender (In)Equality

8. Gender Equality In Ancient Society

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Despite the fact that the gendered hierarchy is considered by many to be the "natural" order, recent studies have shown that our earlier ancestors may have based their societies on more egalitarian principles.

Anthropologist Mark Dyble, who led a study at University College London, says that hunter gatherer communities had a much more equal society and that it was only after the introduction of agriculture, when people were able to collect wealth and, therefore, status, that the hierarchies began to emerge.

It is thought that this kind of equality had a role to play in the development of the human species with our big, social brains and ability to cooperate on a large scale.

Humans are pretty unique in the animal kingdom for our ability to build and maintain large social networks, even before the invention of Facebook, and this could be the key to how we're able to build such successful societies. 

Chimpanzees, for example, live in aggressive, male-dominated societies in which the males have many partners and therefore many children. Whilst this might mean that the old genes are well and truly passed on, the upshot is that the chimps don't get to spend enough time with other adults in order to pass on technologies and as a result lead insular lives that is largely free from innovation.

Human society evolved to be highly social and increased interaction and cooperation between adults, as well as monogamy and relatively limited offspring, meant that we became natural innovators and team players. Luckily, this instinct was hammered into our brains long before the invention of agriculture and social hierarchy.

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