Despite the provocative headline that got you this far, I'm sure there's something to it.

So few women top executives exist that I'm sure there's some "boys club" reason behind it in the board rooms of major corporations where, not coincidentally, there are relatively few women.

But what about female line workers: the female clerks, saleswomen, scientists and engineers. Not the woman who aspires to being the CEO, but the woman who, like most men, just wants to earn a living.

I've often wondered about the statistics and have yet to find an answer to this question: are the statisticians comparing apples to apples or apples to oranges?

Here's what I mean: 

Most men are ready to travel or even relocate away from friends and family if it will improve their career opportunities. I strongly suspect that while many woman are also ready to improve their careers in this way, most women are not. 

I strongly suspect that many women still head toward careers in line with natural feminine inclinations to nurture: teaching, nursing, veterinary care and assistantship jobs, art and craft-oriented jobs.

Add to this some of the disadvantages of women in the workplace such as, greater absenteeism (female health and family commitment reasons), more likely to be a smoker (less likely to give up a break in a crisis situation), and less likely to accept a career move if it means leaving office friends behind, and...

...I wonder what the stats about advancement opportunities and pay would look like if one compared the women who were more like men against their male counterparts.

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I also hope that your little boy gets better soon! So sorry to hear that he's so sick.

Hey Colleen,

I think this is the problem. It isn't that men don't want to be providers. They certainly do. But that does not preclude them sharing in the direct care of the child. My x and I split our responsibilities for our son down the middle and neither of us was a "stay at home" parent. I work in a field where I see these kinds of assumptions being used in highly prejudicial fashion against men to deny them access to their children and it is, frankly, disgusting.

- kk


I certainly don't recieve fulfillment from work on a scale even remotely comparable to that which comes from hugging my daughter when I get home. Men killed things for food because it was easier for them than it was for women (If the women could even do it at all without testosterone fueled muscle mass). Likewise, I can provide for our family's financial needs far better than my wife could. I would still rather be at home.

Sorry matt, I know you're not the first to bring up the idea that only men hunted, but I've read many books and papers that propose otherwise.  I mostly have these in hard copy form, but here is a more general, but also cited, article on wikipedia:

A vast amount of ethnographic and archaeological evidence demonstrates that the sexual division of labor in which men hunt and women gather wild fruits and vegetables is an uncommon phenomenon among hunter-gatherers worldwide. Although most of the gathering is usually done by women, a society in which men completely abstained from gathering easily available plants has yet to be found. Generally women hunt the majority of the small game while men hunt the majority of the large and dangerous game, but there are quite a few documented exceptions to this general pattern. A study done on the Aeta people of the Philippines states: "About 85% of Philippine Aeta women hunt, and they hunt the same quarry as men. Aeta women hunt in groups and with dogs, and have a 31% success rate as opposed to 17% for men. Their rates are even better when they combine forces with men: mixed hunting groups have a full 41% success rate among the Aeta."[17]

It was also found among the Ju'/hoansi people of Namibia that women helped the men during hunting by helping them track down quarry.[20] Moreover, recent archaeological research done by the anthropologist and archaeologist Steven Kuhn from the University of Arizona suggests that the sexual division of labor did not exist prior to the Upper Paleolithic and developed relatively recently in human history. The sexual division of labor may have arisen to allow humans to acquire food and other resources more efficiently.[21] It would, therefore, be an over-generalization to say that men always hunt and women always gather. It is more of a relatively recent human "invention" that by increasing efficiency was beneficial to both sexes.

Though it doesn't appear to show up in your statistics Coleen, wouldn't you agree that in the societies in which the men hunted the larger, more dangerous game, that a likely reason was that for perpetuation of the species, men were far more disposable than women - that since one man was capable of impregnating multiple females, no equal balance of male/female sexes was necessary?

To which stats are you referring?

I don't think that I stated a reason why, but I do have an opinion on the matter. I've read a number of different theories. One theory is that the small game was more than enough for them to live, and that men hunted large game to show off and court women. The thing is we're not sure. These theories are just educated guesses at best. We do know with some certainty, however, that women in these societies also hunted or still hunt today.

First, as I've stated in several other discussions, evolution has no purpose, but we, as a species, find uses for that which evolves within it. That said, I read an interesting article on another atheist site (complete with references I could dig up, if it were absolutely essential to someone, or more likely, point them in the direction in which to look), that in tribes in which older women experienced menopause - a phenomenon unique to humans - they were freed from childbearing, and thus able to care for the children of the tribe, while younger, stronger females, likely mothers of those children, were able to go out and add to the tribe's food supply, whether by hunting, gathering, or a combination of both.

 therefore, be an over-generalization to say that men always hunt and women always gather. It is more of a relatively recent human "invention" that by increasing efficiency was beneficial to both sexes.

Why is it that so many people think that when what you offer a generalization, you are offering an idea with no exceptions? And of course what happens then is that a strawman is born and one can fall back to the idea that the original generalization was an "over-generalization."

A generalization is so-called for being generally true.

The article states that societies where men did all of the hunting were exceptions not the norm. If it's not then an overgeneralization to say that men did the hunting, I don't know what is. If the statement is not meant to be all-inclusive, at the very least it's a narrow description of hunting in past societies.

I never claimed otherwise. However, it just makes sense to a logical mind that women snared rabbits and men took down the dangerous prey. Also, many of the women, I'm sure, had babies needing suckling and other TLC. Even in the very few matriarchal societies, it's not the women who go out whaling while the men have day care center duty.

You keep hounding this point, so let me be clear.  I disagree that the statements you made in your OP are generally true, and I am basing this disagreement on more than just a few exceptions.

Here's an interesting study that describes the trends in attitudes toward women in the workplace: Families and Work Institute.  As this study indicates, it seems that the generalities you described are ones of the past.

Despite these trends, I believe that there remains a gender bias in the workplace (and it's not just men who perpetuate the bias).  Studies such as the one described here bring this bias to light: Yale Daily News.  I believe that we (as in both sexes not just women) have, are, and will continue to make progress, narrow gaps where they may be, and figuratively-speaking break the remaining glass ceilings.


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