Stone age

There was real gender equality in prehistoric times


Everything was better in pre-historic times. Well, okay, maybe not everything — but at least they had actual gender equality! That’s the conclusion from a new study by University College London, which found that contemporary hunter-gatherer tribes operated on an egalitarian basis, where men and women tend to have equal influence on where their group lives and who they live with. This challenges the idea that ‘sexual equality’ is a novel idea, but that it has actually been the norm for most of our evolutionary history. Mark Dyble, the anthropologist leading the study explains, “There is still this wider perception that hunter-gatherers are more macho or male-dominated. We’d argue it was only with the emergence of agriculture, when people could start to accumulate resources, that inequality emerged.” This early gender equality might actually have been a survival advantage, shaping human history and evolution: “Sex equality suggests a scenario where unique human traits, such as cooperation with unrelated individuals, could have emerged in our evolutionary past”, said Andrea Migliano, the paper’s senior author. Sounds like there’s a couple of things we could learn from our forefathers — and mothers.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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