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Gender Equality Existed In Early Hunter-Gatherers, Study Suggests

Early Sexual Equality

While there are those who believe sexual equality to be a uniquely modern ideal, a recently published study conducted by researchers at the University College London (UCL) has found that equality between sexes may have been the norm throughout much of our evolutionary history.

In the study, which was led by UCL anthropologist Mark Dyble, researchers analyzed contemporary hunter-gatherer tribes and found that men and women tended to have an equal influence on important decisions such as where their group lived and who they lived with.

Dyble and his team believe that it wasn’t until later that sexual inequality emerged. The team also indicated that the modern perception of early hunter-gatherer societies as having been “male-dominated” to be incorrect.

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 (…) Sexual equality is one of a important suite of changes to social organisation, including things like pair-bonding, our big, social brains, and language, that distinguishes humans (…) It’s an important one that hasn’t really been highlighted before.

The study’s findings suggest that equality between sexes may have been a survival advantage which played an important role in the shaping of human society and evolution, according to a report on The Guardian.

Researchers behind the study, which was published in the journal Science, spent a couple of years with contemporary hunter-gatherer societies in the Philippines and Congo, where they collected data while conducting interviews. Their research indicated that despite living in smaller communities, hunter-gatherers tend to live in groups composed of a larger number of individuals who are unrelated to one another because when men are in charge, they tend to surround themselves with only their close relations whereas women tend to incorporate in-laws, which makes for a much more diverse composition of individuals with less directly related family members.

This study which focused on modern hunter-gatherer societies has led the team of researchers behind it to conclude that older hunter-gatherer societies may have operated in much the same way, which is why there are those who now suggest that it wasn’t until much later that the inequality emerged.

In other coverage on equality between the sexes here at Immortal News, a recent study found that male nurses get paid more than their female counterparts.

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