Evolutionary explanations of gender (division of labour)


Mind Map on Evolutionary explanations of gender (division of labour), created by slbuckley5 on 04/15/2014.
Mind Map by slbuckley5, updated more than 1 year ago
Created by slbuckley5 almost 9 years ago

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Evolutionary explanations of gender (division of labour)
  1. This approach explores the way behavioural traits can be passed on through our genes. The evolutionary theory of gender roles proposes that males and females have evolved different roles. They behave in different ways, in order to increase their chances of their own survival and that of their young.
    1. The traditional gender roles have been male hunters and female gatherers and homemakers. This role division may have evolved because women would have spent most of their adult life pregnant or producing milk or both. If the women spent time hunting it would reduce the group’s reproductive success. However, women could contribute by caring for children, growing vegetables, cooking, making clothes etc.
      1. Brain development differences would also influence the division of labour, with males have better visual spatial skills so being better hunters, while women having better language skills which are needed to raise infants effectively and transmit to the next generation how to behave in society.
        1. It has also been suggested that this gender division of labour can explain why humans (HOMO SAPIENS) survived while Neanderthals (HOMO NEANDERTHALENSIS) did not. The Neanderthals diet was only animals and both men and women hunted. Neanderthals were large and needed high calorie food; when hunting was unsuccessful the whole group would starve. Humans however were able to farm an eat vegetables due to their more adaptive division of labour, so they didn’t rely on one food source.
          1. This explanation is supported by cross-cultural research into gender based division of labour.
            1. Wood and Eagley (2002) looked at records from many cultures around the world and found division of labour by gender everywhere. In most non-industrial cultures, men did more to provide the food than women, and this was especially marked in cultures that hunted large animals. In all cultures, women contributed much more to child care, especially in infancy.
              1. This study supports the idea that division of labour by gender roles is determined by evolution because women originally looked after the children (because they were smaller than men and usually pregnant) and were gatherers. This emphasises that the women’s roles were determined by the best chance of the group survival so they didn’t go hunting because they didn’t to produce children.
                1. However… Wood and Eagley also found that there was a lot of variation between cultures in men ‘s and women’s roles`- weaving, milking, harvesting, planting and tending crops are example of swing activities which were predominately male in some cultures, more female in others.
                  1. • This opposes the evolutionary explanation of gender role development because it shows that men and women can share their roles. Whereas , the evolutionary explanation states that men ‘provide’ and women are ‘homemakers’ and therefore evolution is not the only reason why men and women do different activities. It also suggests that if there are variations in gender development across cultures that it is nurture rather than nature.
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