Sexe, genre et évolution : division du travail

Existait-il chez les chasseurs-cueilleurs du paléolithique une division sexuelle (ou genrée) du travail ? A quand remonte-t-elle ? Les hommes sont-ils chasseurs et les femmes cueilleuses ? Si oui, cette division est-elle absolue ? L’idée que les hommes sont les pourvoyeurs majoritaires de nourriture est-elle exacte (et qui la formule ?) ? Quels sont les indices en faveur d’une division du travail remontant au paléolithique ? Comment a évolué cette division du travail au néolithique ? Peut-on tirer de cette histoire de la division du travail des conclusions sociologiques ou psychologiques encore utiles aujourd’hui ?
Voir aussi en complément la page sur le dimorphisme sexuel.


1. Ethnologie
2. Archéologie
3. Général
4. Ethologie



(voir Wood, 2019)
Gendered movement ecology and landscape use in Hadza hunter-gatherers [PDF]
Wood et al.
Nature human behaviour, 2021

Comparisons of Hadza space use with space use data available for non-human primates suggest that the sexual division of labour likely co-evolved with increased sex differences in spatial behaviour and landscape use.

Who teaches children to forage? Exploring the primacy of child-to-child teaching among Hadza and BaYaka Hunter-Gatherers of Tanzania and Congo [PDF]
Lew-Lewis et al.
Evolution and human behavior, 2020

Parents encourage children’s participation in foraging by making small digging sticks for girls and small bows and arrows for boys, which are used to hunt mice and birds around camp (Crittenden et al., 2013).
[…] for example, boys as young as two are made small, functional bows and arrows, and girls are provided with small, appropriately sized digging sticks (Crittenden, 2016). 

(voir Wood, 2021)
Hadza Hunter-Gatherers Exhibit Gender Differences in Space Use and Spatial Cognition Consistent with the Ecology of Male and Female Targeted Foods [PDF]
Wood et al.
University of Nevada publications, 2019


Results show that Hadza men walked further per day, explored more land, followed more sinuous paths, and were much more likely to be alone while traveling. These patterns emerged early in life, before age 10, and persisted across the life course.

Development of social learning and play in BaYaka hunter-gatherers of Congo [Texte]
Salali et al.
Nature scientific reports, 2019

Throughout childhood boys engage in play more often than girls whereas girls start foraging wild plants from early childhood and spend more time in domestic activities and childcare. Sex differences in play reflect the emergence of sexual division of labour and the play-work transition occurring earlier for girls.
[…] hunter-gatherer girls’ play activities would involve food gathering and domestic skills, whilst boys’ would relate to skills required for hunting and climbing trees for honey collection.

Hunter gatherers congo learning by sex

Hunter-gatherer males are more risk-seeking than females, even in
late childhood [PDF]
Apicella et al.
Evolution and human behavior, 2017

Our data suggest that while the mean number of calories boys bring to camp remains stable with age, the variance in their caloric returns increases. Among girls, the variance remains stable with increased age. Both the economic games and food return data are consistent with the sexual division of labor wherein boys, beginning in late childhood, begin to target riskier foods. To the extent that the Hadza allow us to make inferences about long-standing patterns of human behavior, we suggest that sex differences in risk preferences may have been present long before agriculture and the modern work environment.

Feminine Knowledge and Skill Reconsidered: Women and Flaked Stone Tools [Abstract]
Kathrin Weedman Arthur
American Anthropologist, 2010

Konso women are skilled knappers who develop their expertise through long-term practice and apprenticeship. Their lithic technology demonstrates that an individual’s level of skill and age are visible in stone assemblages. Most importantly, they illustrate that women procure high-quality stone from long distances,
produce formal tools with skill, and use their tools efficiently.


Fishing and the Sexual Division of Labor among the Meriam [PDF]
Rebecca Bliege Bird
American Anthropologist, 2007

Women’s fishing had lower failure rates, coefficients of variation,
and frequencies of sharing than men’s fishing. Men and women responded to trade-offs between mean and variance differently: Women spent less time on high mean–high variance activities, men less time on high mean–low variance activiti


Hunting and Gathering. The Human Sexual Division of Foraging Labor [Abstract]
Frank W. Marlowe
Cross-cultural research, 2007

There is less division of labor in less seasonal, more productive habitats where males do more gathering. This suggests males respond more as optimal foragers than maximal signalers.

Marlowe 2007 division du travail
Marlowe 2007 division du travail 2

The Organization of Male and Female Labor in Foraging Societies: Implications for Early Paleoindian Archaeology [PDF]
Nicole M. Waguespack
American Anthropologist, 2005

I develop an interpretation of Early Paleoindian labor organization, emphasizing female labor in the production of material goods and the procurement of low‐risk plant and animal resources based on global economic trends among foragers.

Why do good hunters have higher reproductive success? [PDF]
Eric Alden Smith
Human nature, 2004

Detailed quantitative data on these patterns are now available for five widely dispersed cases (Ache, Hadza, !Kung, Lamalera, and Meriam) and indicate that better hunters exhibit higher age-corrected reproductive success than other men in their social group. Leading explanations to account for this pattern are: (1) direct provisioning of hunters’ wives and offspring, (2) dyadic reciprocity, (3) indirect reciprocity, (4) costly signaling, and (5) phenotypic correlation. I examine the qualitative and quantitative evidence bearing on these explanations and conclude that although none can be definitively rejected, extensive and apparently unconditional sharing of large game somewhat weakens the first three explanations. The costly signaling explanation has support in some cases, although the exact nature of the benefits gained from mating or allying with or deferring to better hunters needs further study.

Sexual division of labor: Energetic and evolutionary scenarios [PDF]
Catherine Panter-Brick
American journal of human biology, 2002

Panter-Brick 2002

A Cross-Cultural Analysis of the Behavior of Women and Men : Implications for the Origins of Sex Differences [PDF]
Wood & Eagly
Psychological bulletin, 2002

Division du travail 1973


Wood Eagly 2002 children caretaking

Male Contribution to Diet and Female Reproductive Success among Foragers [Abstract]
Franck Marlowe
Current anthropology, 2001

Male contribution to diet varies from 25 to 100%, with a mean of 64% (S.D.p18.3, n p 95). Because there is less edible plant food for women to gather in colder climates, male contribution is higher at higher latitudes, where effective temperature is lower (r p .512, p ! 0.0005, n p 82). Male contribution is also greater where biomass is greater […] In environments where effective temperature is greater than 13C (between about latitudes 45N and 45S, mean male contribution to diet is 55% (S.D.p15.9, n p 36). […] Although greater male contribution to diet may or may not reduce subadult mortality, its impact on fertility is clear. Where male contribution to diet is greater, women’s fertility (TFR) is higher (bp.497, pp0.010, d.f.p24) (fig. 1). Controlling for biomass, the positive effect of male contribution to diet on TFR is even greater (b p .740, p p 0.003, d.f. p 20). Greater male contribution to diet must allow females to maintain ovarian function better by foraging less and spending less energy or by weaning earlier or both. Age at weaning is lower where male contribution to diet is greater (r p .279, p p 0.081, n p 40) and significantly lower controlling for biomass […]

Evolution : Diet, Intelligence, and Longevity [PDF]
Kaplan et al.
Evolutionnary anthropology, 2000

Kapla contribution 2000
Production nourriture par hommes et femmes HG Kaplan 2000

Sexual dimorphism in human lower limb bone structure: relationship to subsistence strategy and sexual division of labor [Abstract]
Christopher Ruff
Journal of human evolution, 1987

Cross-sectional geometric properties of the human femur and tibia are compared in males and females in a number of recent and archaeological population samples extending back to the Middle Paleolithic. There is a consistent decline in sexual dimorphism from hunting-gathering to agricultural to industrial subsistence strategy levels in properties which measure relative anteroposterior bending strength of the femur and tibia in the region about the knee. This trend parallels and is indicative of reductions in the sexual division of labor, in particular differences in the relative mobility of males and females. Sexual dimorphism in mediolateral bending strength near the hip shows no consistent temporal trend, probably reflecting relatively constant sex differences in pelvic structure related to the requirements of childbirth. Upper and Middle Paleolithic samples are indistinguishable in terms of sexual dimorphism from modern huntergatherers, suggesting a similar sexual division of labor.

The Compatibility of Hunting and Mothering among the Agta Hunter-Gatherers of the Philippines [PDF]
Goodman et al.
Sex roles, 1985

Goodman 1985 Agta table 1 hunting days

Factors in the Division of Labor by Sex: A Cross-Cultural Analysis [Texte]
Murdock & Provost
Ethnology, 1973

Murdock and provost 1973 labor division




A sexual division of labour at the start of agriculture? A multi-proxy comparison through grave good stone tool technological and use-wear analysis [Texte]
Masclans et al.
PLOS One, 2021

Our data demonstrate males were buried with stone tools used for woodwork, and butchery, hunting or interpersonal violence, while women with those for the working of animal skins, expanding the range of tasks known to have been carried out. The results also show variation along an east-west cline from Slovakia to eastern France, suggesting that the sexual division of labour (or at least its representation in death) changed as farming spread westwards.

Les vestiges humains gravettiens dans le Sud-Ouest de la France : bilan du projet Gravett’os [Abstract]
Villotte et al.
Bulletins et mémoires de la société d’anthropologie de Paris, 2021

Nos études confortent les analyses précédentes sur les comportements au Gravettien : extrême mobilité et division sexuelle du travail très marquée avec une prépondérance nette des activités unimanuelles pour les hommes. Elles suggèrent également des activités physiques très intenses pour les femmes et pointent vers une division des tâches dès l’adolescence.

Female hunters of the early Americas [PDF]
Haas et al.
Science advances, 2020

Analysis of Late Pleistocene and Early Holocene burial practices throughout the Americas situate WMP6 as the earliest and most secure hunter burial in a sample that includes 10 other females in statistical parity with early male hunter burials. The findings are consistent with nongendered labor practices in which early hunter-gatherer females were big-game hunters.

On est surpris des conclusions très affirmatives de l’article, quand on a par ailleurs des passages comme celui-ci :

Unfortunately, the quality of artifact association, sex estimation, and date estimation varies among the archeological samples. Only three individuals from two sites—two individuals from Upward Sun River and the WMP6 individual—are considered secure insofar as they are (i) well documented in secure stratigraphic association with big-game hunting tools, (ii) securely sexed using biomolecular methods, and (iii) directly dated by radiocarbon on bone collagen. The Upward Sun River females are both infants and, thus, were not hunters per se, although they appear to have been gendered in a way that recognized females as associated with big-game hunting. WMP6 is the only individual securely identified as a big-game hunter burial in a sample of 27 tentative Late Pleistocene or Early Holocene New World individuals in association with big-game hunting tools. Regardless of whether the most conservative or liberal criteria are used for identifying hunter burials, when the criteria for acceptance are applied uniformly across the sample, both female- and male-hunter burials occur in statistical parity (Materials and Methods, burial meta-analysis).

Disentangling Cro-Magnon: The adult upper limb skeleton [PDF]
Villotte et al.
Journal of arcaheological science: reports, 2020

This study also reinforces the hypothesis of gender roles during the MUP, with women more frequently than men involved in physical activities requiring both upper limbs.

Using Dental Microwear to Assess Extramasticatory Activities at Roonka Flat: An Investigation into the Division of Labour of Pre-Colonial Hunter-Gatherers (mémoire de Master) [Abstract]
Victoria Trow
University of Oakland, 2019

By analysing these features, it emerged that there is no difference in chipping distribution or microstriation patterns between males and females, indicating that there may have been a level of parity between males and females in using the teeth as tools, and processing plants and sinew into cord and fishing equipment. Analysing labial striations revealed that there was a significant difference in the presence of this feature on male and female dentition, with almost every individual with labial striations being male. While this may indicate that stuff-and-cut activities are dominated by males, female inclusion in this activity indicates that a strict sexual division of labour in this activity may be inaccurate. Overall, microwear features indicate both male and female participation in the activities that are identifiable in dentition, calling into question the reliability of ethnohistoric resources to understand prehistoric ways of life.


The daily grind: Sex‐ and age‐related activity patterns inferred from cross‐sectional geometry of long bones in a pre‐Columbian muisca population from Tibanica, Colombia [Abstract]
Miller et al.
American journal of physical anthropology, 2018

The findings indicate both age‐ and sex‐related differences in activity patterns. An emphasis on upper body strength and robusticity was observed in the females, while males performed more strenuous work using their lower bodies, suggesting gender‐based differences in labor. Men showed significant asymmetry in their humerii, with most showing right‐hand dominance for upper body activities, while females showed high levels of humeral symmetry indicating similar levels of biomechanical stress for both arms. Female femoral diaphyseal shape changes with age, suggesting more mobility in youth and decreased mobility in middle and older ages.

These results suggest that daily life may have been structured through patterns of routine labor that united and divided particular age and sex groups. Cross‐sectional geometry data indicate women likely spent significant time and energy preparing food, especially grinding maize or other foods, while men may have done more long‐distance walking potentially to work in agricultural fields or procure other resources.


The paleobiology of two adult skeletons from Baousso da Torre (Bausu da Ture) (Liguria, Italy): Implications for Gravettian lifestyle [Texte]
Villotte et al.
Compte-rendus Palevol, 2017

Our results thus reinforce hypotheses on Late Pleistocene population behavioral patterns, namely the existence of a division of labor between unimanual (mostly male) and bi-manual tasks (mostly female), and high levels of mobility. Those behavioral patterns appear unchanging throughout the Upper Paleolithic, even if major population turnover(s) took place in Europe during the Late Glacial.


Patterns of humeral asymmetry among Late Pleistocene humans [Texte]
Sparacello et al. (Villotte)
Comptes-rendus Palevol, 2017

Humeral asymmetry is especially high among the males relative to the females, and the possibility of a division of labor between uni-manual tasks (mostly male) and bi-manual tasks (mostly female) is considered. At the same time, there is a general pattern of increased asymmetry with larger body size, but it remains unclear to what extent it reflects body size versus sexual effects on bilateral humeral loading. There do not appear to have been substantial changes in humeral asymmetry through time, indicating a continuity of similar manual behavioral patterns through the Late Pleistocene, despite considerable changes in technology through the Late Pleistocene.

Prehistoric women’s manual labor exceeded that of athletes through the first 5500 years of farming in Central Europe [Texte]
Macintosh et al.
Science advances, 2017

Mean tibial rigidity and shape ratios among Neolithic men were similar to those of male cross-country runners and had declined to the level of sedentary control subjects by approximately 385 cal BC
[…] manual activities appear to have changed substantially more among women than men during this time […] All prehistoric women had high relative upper limb loading when compared to living women. This distribution did not differ significantly from that of rowers […] Means among women are consistently lower than among males for bending/torsional rigidity, maximum bending rigidity, minimum bending rigidity, shape ratio, cortical bone area, and percent cortical bone area, regardless of the intensity with which individuals are loading their limbs. (note : ne compare que des populations modernes)[…] changes in the female behavioral repertoire through time are less heavily characterized by declining terrestrial mobility than among contemporaneous men […] The economic participation of LBK women in livestock-related activities, tilling, planting, and harvesting crops, likely with digging sticks, hoes, and flint sickles inserted into wooden handles (31), as well as grinding the grain once harvested, was likely considerable.[…] Among modern subsistence agriculturalists, food processing tends to be a predominantly female activity (38), and ethnographic observations note that grinding using a saddle quern can burden women with an average of approximately 5 hours a day of manual labor […] The intensity, directionality, and interlimb distribution of loading exerted by the habitual behaviors of LBK women are most comparable to that of living semi-elite rowers, many of whom have represented their countries at World Rowing Championships, World Rowing U23 Championships, World Junior Championships, and World and European University Championships. […] It is likely that food processing remained largely a female activity in the Bronze Age […] in the Middle Neolithic (6000 to 5500 BP, uncalibrated) of Western Liguria in Italy (3, 5, 46), a marked sexual division of labor was documented, with evidence of both low mobility levels among women and the performance of very symmetrical upper limb loading, attributed to the performance of bimanual cereal processing.[…]among European women overall (17), humeral structural properties shift most with the introduction of agriculture and quern technologies in the Neolithic and subsequent periods, whereas those of men change most prior to the Neolithic, in response to changes in hunting technology and behavior. In the Americas, women exhibit greater increases in humeral strength than men alongside the intensification of native seed crops (6) and of horticultural activities related to surplus food production (47), suggesting heavier involvement in these agricultural activities among women than men.[…]


Division of labor by sex and age in Neandertals: an approach through the study of activity-related dental wear [Extraits]
Estalrrich & Rosas
Journal of human evolution, 2015

The differences detected on the overall activity-related dental wear pattern denote a difference or a division of labor by age and sex in Neandertals while using the mouth as a third hand, i.e., in activities other than the provisioning of food


“I sing of arms and of a man…”: medial epicondylosis and the sexual division of labour in prehistoric Europe [PDF]
Villotte & Knüsel
Journal of archeological science, 2014

This indicates that males, but not females, preferentially employed movements involving throwing motions in these hunter-gatherer and early farming groups. Based on this evidence we postulate the existence of a persistent sexual division of labour in these prehistoric European populations involving one or several strenuous activities linked to unilateral limb use.

The consequences of Middle Paleolithic diets on pregnant Neanderthal women [PDF]
Bryan Hockett
Quaternary international, 2012

There are a large number of potential lessons to be learned here. Principle among them is that researchers should consider the possibility that previous models have, to one degree or another:
[…] 3) Under-appreciated the degree of sexual division of labor within Neanderthal groups generally, and for pregnant and lactating women, specifically;

Osteological clues for the presence of a sexual division of labour in the Eurasian Middle Paleolithic (Mémoire de Licence) [Abstract]
Japp Saers
Leiden university, 2011

In this bachelor thesis I investigate whether Neanderthals had a sexual division of labour or not. I established three hypotheses: 1) Neanderthals had a sexual division of labour where males hunt and females gather plant foods and perform other activities, 2) Neanderthals had a sexual division of labour where males and females hunt but males perform the most dangerous tasks, 3) there was no sexual division of labour and males and females hunted and gathered in equal amounts. To find out if Neanderthals had a sexual division of labour, a meta-study of two osteological analyses applied to Neanderthal bones was performed. The first methods that was used was a comparison of the shape and robusticity of male and female Neanderthal limb bones compared to samples of modern human hunter-gatherers and sedentary populations. Secondly the distribution of trauma across the skeletons of male and female Neanderthals was compared. In both of the analyses the evidence pointed towards the first hypothesis. The evidence however was too limited. The small sample size of sexable Neanderthals was the largest issue. I concluded that according to the data gathered in this thesis hypothesis 1 is the most likely. However, none of the three hypotheses can be rejected confidently due to the limited evidence.

Subsistence activities and the sexual division of labor in the European Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic: Evidence from upper limb enthesopathies [PDF]
Villotte et al.
Journal of human evolution, 2010

Four males exhibit lesions that can be confidently associated with throwing activities, while no females exhibit such lesions.

Paleolithic Diet and the Division of Labor in Mediterranean Eurasia, in The Evolution of Hominin Diet (chapitre de livre) [PDF]
Stiner & Kuhn
Springer, 2009

Hunter-gatherers of the recent era vary in many aspects of culture, yet they display great uniformity in their tendency to divide labor along the lines of gender and age. We argue on the basis of zooarchaeological, technological, and demographic evidence that the complementary economic roles of men and women so typical of ethnographically documented hunter-gatherers did not appear in Eurasia until the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic. The rich archaeological record of Middle Paleolithic cultures in Eurasia suggests, by contrast, that earlier hominins (Neandertals, among others) pursued narrowly focused economies, with women’s activities more closely aligned to those of men with respect to schedules and territory use patterns.

Enthésopathies et activités des hommes préhistoriques – Recherche méthodologique et application aux fossiles européens du Paléolithique supérieur et du Mésolithique (Thèse de Doctorat) [PDF]
Sébastien Villotte
Université de Bordeaux 1

L’analyse a permis de caractériser une relation entre les modifications osseuses et l’activité physique pour l’un des systèmes. Ce dernier a ensuite été appliqué à un ensemble de fossiles européens du Paléolithique supérieur et du Mésolithique (n = 95) dont les caractéristiques biologiques (âge et sexe) ont été réévaluées au moyen de méthodes fiables. Les résultats attestent de l’intérêt de la démarche. D’une part, ils permettent d’avancer l’hypothèse d’une division sexuelle du travail à ces périodes, avec une pratique du lancer dévolue aux hommes. Ils révèlent d’autre part des différences comportementales entre les populations gravettiennes et celles des périodes plus récentes, impliquant notamment une réduction des distances parcourues et une intensification de l’exploitation du milieu à la fin du Paléolithique supérieur et au Mésolithique.

What’s a Mother to Do? The Division of Labor among Neandertals and Modern Humans in Eurasia [PDF]
Kuhn & Stiner
Current anthropology, 2006

The complementary economic roles for men and women typical of ethnographically doc-umented hunter-gatherers did not appear in Eurasia until the beginning of the Upper Paleolithic. The rich archaeological record of Middle Paleolithic cultures in Eurasia suggests that earlier hominins pursued more narrowly focused economies, with women’s activities more closely aligned with those of men with respect to schedule and ranging patterns than in recent forager systems. More broadly based economies emerged first in the early Upper Paleolithic in the eastern Mediterranean region and later in the rest of Eurasia. The behavioral changes associated with the Upper Paleolithic record signal a wider range of economic and technological roles in forager societies, and these changes may have provided the expanding populations of Homo sapiens with a demographic advantage over other hominins in Eurasia.

Spear and digging stick: The origin of gender and its implications for the colonization of new continents [PDF]
Balme & Bowdler
Journal of Social Archaeology, 2006

A division of labour between sexes/genders in which, although there is some overlap, men hunt large game and women collect smaller game, shellfish and most plant foods, is a characteristic of all documented hunter-gatherer societies. We argue that there is no biological reason for this behaviour and that it must be a social construct. These gender roles became part of the structure of societies at the same time as other forms of symbolic behaviour associated with anatomically modern humans (Homo sapiens sapiens). Established gender roles were important for the first colonizers of a new continent, Australia, because it allowed the colonizers to tackle a completely new environment.

Spear and Digging Stick. The origin of gender and its implications for the colonization of new continents [PDF]
Balme & Bowdler
Journal of Social Archaeology, 2006

In searching for the earliest evidence of a human division of labour we are not searching for the beginnings of meat eating (e.g. Lee and DeVore, 1968) or even of hunting (e.g. Leibowitz, 1986), neither of which can in themselves be considered distinctly human. Instead we are looking for evidence for the organization of subsistence, where meat provided by large game is an important food resource brought to a camp for shared consumption, and for evidence of symbolic behaviour as a prerequisite for the division of labour. We are looking for evidence that demonstrates that males and females were in separate symbolic categories. At what time in our perception of human history is there evidence for these behaviours?

Mobility in Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic Europe: Evidence from the lower limb [Abstract]
Brigitte M. Holt
American journal of physical anthropology, 2003

Sexual dimorphism levels in diaphyseal strength remain low throughout the three time periods, suggesting a departure in Upper Paleolithic and Mesolithic foragers away from the pattern of division of labor by sex observed in modern hunter‐gatherers. Results confirm that the onset of the Last Glacial Maximum represents a crucial stage in Late Pleistocene human evolution, and signals the appearance of some of the behavioral adaptations that are usually associated with the Neolithic, such as sedentism.

Musculoskeletal stress markers in Natufian hunter‐gatherers and Neolithic farmers in the Levant: The upper limb [Abstract]
Eshed et al.
American journal of physical anthropology, 2003

The MSM pattern for males and females indicates a gender‐based division of labor both in the Natufian and the Neolithic.



A critical analysis of the evidence for sexual division of tasks in the european upper paleolithic (chapitre de livre) [PDF]
Sophie A. de Beaune
Squeezing minds from tools, 2018


Looking for unity in diversity: human cooperative childcare in comparative perspective [Texte]
Burkart et al.
Proceedings of the royal society B. 2017

human immatures could not be reared successfully without extensive allomaternal care and interdependent adult human foragers could not survive without the extensive within-band sharing

The Sexual Division of Labor, In Emerging Trends in the Social and Behavioral Sciences [PDF]
Bliege Bird & Codding
John Wiley & Sons, 2015

Divisions of labor can be based on age, as well as on gender, and are not limited solely to monogamous marital pairs. Divisions of gender take the form more generally not of meat and vegetables, but of the acquisition of high and low variance foods. Some differences in labor may be the result of conflicting interests, others emerging from common goals, and still others from the power of patriarchy. Differences in labor patterns may not be designed solely, or even primarily, to provision children, but may also be shaped by the social goals of both sexes.

On the Origins of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough [PDF]
Alesina et al.
The quarterly journal of economics, 2013

We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture, today have lower rates of female participation in the workplace, in politics, and in entrepreneurial activities, as well as a greater prevalence of attitudes favoring gender inequality. […] Shifting cultivation, which uses hand-held tools like the hoe and the digging stick, is labor intensive and women actively participate in farm-work. Plough cultivation, by contrast, is much more capital intensive, using the plough to prepare the soil. Unlike the hoe or digging stick,the plough requires significant upper body strength, grip strength, and burst of power, which are needed to either pull the plough or control the animal that pulls it. Because of these requirements, when plough agriculture is practiced, men have an advantage in farming relative to women (Murdock and Provost,1973). Also reinforcing this gender-bias in ability is the fact that when the plough is used, there is less need for weeding, a task typically undertaken by women and children (Foster and Rosenzweig,1996). In addition, child care, a task almost universally performed by women, is most compatible with activities that can be stopped and resumed easily and do not put children in danger. These are characteristics that are satisfied for hoe agriculture, but not for plough agriculture, particularly since large animals are typically used to pull the plough.


Direct Male Care and Hominin Evolution: Why Male–Child Interaction Is More Than a Nice Social Idea [Abstract]
Lee T. Gettler
American anthropologist, 2010

I propose an evolutionary model of direct male care, demonstrating that males could have helped reduce the energetic burden of caregiving placed on mothers by carrying young. In doing so, males would have assisted females in achieving and maintaining an energetic condition sufficient for reproduction, thereby hastening the advent of shortened interbirth intervals that played a formative role in the success of our genus.

Gettler 2010 paternal holding

Sex differences in mushroom gathering: men expend more energy to obtain equivalent benefits [PDF]
Pachebo-Cobos et al.
Evolution and human behavior, 2010

Although men and women collected similar quantities of mushrooms, men did so at significantly higher cost. They traveled further, to greater altitudes, and had higher mean heart rates and energy expenditure (kcal). They also collected fewer species and visited fewer collection sites. These findings are consistent with arguments in the literature that differences in spatial ability between the sexes are domain dependent, with women performing better and more readily adopting search strategies appropriate to a gathering lifestyle than men.

Why do men hunt ? A Reevaluation of “Man the Hunter” and the Sexual Division of Labor [PDF]
Gurven & Hill
Current anthropology, 2009

Rather than continue to argue over monocausal explanations of men’s hunting, new studies should examine how costs and benefits of male mating and parenting investment vary with ecological circumstance, partner status, condition and need of offspring, and availability of substitutable aid. In addition, they should examine how hunting rather than gath-ring might best meet male goals given the constraints of human social living
[…]The role of men in hunter‐gatherer societies has been subject to vigorous debate over the past 15 years. The proposal that men hunt wild game as a form of status signaling or “showing off” to provide reproductive benefits to the hunter challenges the traditional view that men hunt to provision their families. Two broad assumptions underlie the signaling view: (1) hunting is a poor means of obtaining food, and (2) hunted game is a public good shared widely with others and without expectation of future reciprocation. If hunters lack the ability to direct food shares and obtain subsequent benefits contingent on redistribution, then the ubiquitous observations of male hunting and universal pair‐bonding cannot be explained from a perspective that emphasizes kin provisioning and a division of labor. Here we show that there is little empirical support for the view that men hunt for signaling benefits alone.
[…]On average, men contribute about 65% of the calories and 85% of the protein to the forager diet (Kaplan et al. 2000; Marlowe 2001)

Réponse de Hawkes et al. :
Family Provisioning Is Not the Only Reason Men Hunt [Texte]
Current anthropology, 2010

Réponse à la réponse :
Moving beyond Stereotypes of Men’s Foraging Goals
Reply to Hawkes, O’Connell, and Coxworth [Extrait]
Current anthropology, 2010


Cooperative Breeding and Human Cognitive Evolution [PDF]
Burkart et al.
Evolutionnary anthropology, 2009

Among many nonhuman primates and mammals in general, cooperative breeding is accompanied by psychological changes leading to greater prosociality, which directly enhances performance in social cognition.Here we propose that these cognitive consequences of cooperative breeding could have become more pervasive in the human lineage because the psychological changes were added to an ape-level cognitive system capable of understanding simple mental states, albeit mainly in competitive contexts. Once more prosocial motivations were added, these cognitive abilities could also be used for cooperative purposes, including a willingness to share mental states, thereby enabling the emergence of shared intentionality.

The Female Advantage in Object Location Memory According to the Foraging Hypothesis: A Critical Analysis [PDF]
Ecuyer-Dab & Robert
Human nature, 2007

Across a wide range of modern foragers, the main gathering responsibility is indeed women’s, whereas men are mostly found to gather opportunistically (Hawkes et al.1997;Hayden1992), as among the Bushmen from Botswana (Silberbauer1981), the Aché from Paraguay (Hawkes1993), and the Mardudjara Aborigines (Gould 1981; Tonkinson 1978) or the Meriam (Bliege Bird et al.2001) from Australia. In less-typical groups, men collect plants on par with women: This is the case among the Tiwi from Australia (Goodale 1971) and the Agta from the Philippines(Estioko-Griffin and Griffin 1981,1985). […] Hunting with projectile weapons (e.g., arrows and spears) is usually engaged in by men, large-game hunting being their almost exclusive domain (Hawkes et al. 1997; Kaplan and Hill 1992; Murdock and Provost 1973; Webster 1981). Relying on stationary implements like traps, snares, and nets, women’s involvement in the capture of small prey is nonetheless frequently encountered. Such meat procurement by women occurs among the Bushmen (Silberbauer 1981), the Aché (Kaplan and Hill 1992),the Tiwi (Goodale 1971), the Chipewyan (Jarvenpa and Brumbach 1995), and the Matses from Peru (Romanoff1983). […] This does not mean however that women are unfit for hunting medium-size and large game, wielding the same weapons as men. Women engage in such hunting among the Agta (Estioko-Griffin and Griffin 1981,1985) as well as the Ojibwa(Landes 1938) and the Kaska (Honigmann 1964) from North America. What is more, these women have significant success.

Distorting the past. Gender and the Division of Labor in the European Upper Paleolithic (livre)
Linda Owen, 2005

Recension de François Audouze [Article]
Bulletin de la société préhistorique française, 2006.

Owen 2005 distorting the past recension 2006

Sexual division of labor: energetic and evolutionary scenarios [Abstract]
Panter-Brick C.
American journal of human biology, 2002

Attention to energetic and reproductive trade‐offs has usefully challenged the proposition that women are excluded from big‐game hunting due to constraints of foraging ecology and reproduction. Simplistic assumptions about gender roles are thus increasingly questioned in anthropology, as well as in archaeology.

(Cité par Priscille Touraille)

Cooperation and Conflict: The Behavioral Ecology of the Sexual Division of Labor [Abstract]
Rebecca Bird
Evolutionary anthropology, 1999

When it comes to subsistence, men and women in almost all societies do it differently. One long-standing explanation for this sexual division of labor is that men and women pair up to provision offspring and specialize in subsistence activities in order to maximize household productivity. This model of cooperative parental provisioning has generally been supported by the proposal that both male and female reproductive success is maximized by provisioning current offspring rather than deserting them in order to seek new mating opportunities. But recent analyses of bird behavior have often failed to support this premise. We now know that among many species conflicting reproductive strategies between males and females often result in less than optimal compromises with regard to mating and parenting. This new focus on the role of sexual selection in creating compromise and conflict between the sexes has the potential to illuminate many puzzling aspects of human partnerships between men and women. To demonstrate its potential, I compare the explanatory power of a cooperative provisioning model of sex difference in human foraging and food sharing with a model incorporating conflicting reproductive goals.

(cité par Priscille Touraille)

Why Hunter-Gatherers Work: An Ancient Version of the Problem of Public Goods [and Comments and Reply] [PDF]
Hawkes et al.
Current anthropology, 1993

People who hunt and gather for a living share some resources more widely than others. A favored hypothesis to explain the dif­ferential sharing is that giving up portions of large, unpredictable resources obligates others to return shares of them later, reduc­ing everyone’s variance in consumption. I show that this insur­ance argument is not empirically supported for !Kung, Ache, and Hadza foragers. An alternative hypothesis is that the cost of notsharing these resources is too high to pay. If exclusion costs are high, then these resources are like public goods. If so, why does anyone provide them? I briefly review treatments of the problem of public goods by economists and use a simple model to show why self-interested actors will rarely find the consumption value they place on collective goods sufficient reason to supply them. The model underlines the obvious corollary that individuals get more to consume if others provide collective goods. This is a rea­son to prefer neighbors and associates who are suppliers. Such a preference may itself be a benefit worth seeking. I construct an­other simple model to explore this. Taken together the models suggest two competing foraging goals: feeding one’s family and gaining social benefits instead. This highlights conflicts of eco­nomic interest among family members. It is a direct challenge to influential scenarios of human evolution built on the assumption that men are primarily paternal investors who hunt to support their spouses and offspring.

A propos de la division sexuelle du travail chez les chasseurs-cueilleurs [PDF]
Sophie Archambault de Beaune
Bulletin de la société préhistorique française, 1986

Sophie A de Beaune pb des sépultures

Hurtado et al.
Human Ecology, 1985

Anthropologists have frequently proposed that sexual division of labor is produced by childcare constraints on women’s subsistence work. We present data on the forest activities of Ache women that show that differences in parental investment partially account for variation in food acquisition among individual women. Data also suggest that childcare constraints are important in understanding the sexual division of labor.

The origin of man [PDF]
C. Owen Lovejoy
Science, 1981

Lovejoy 1981 origin of man


The Food-sharing Behavior of Protohuman Hominids [Extrait]
Glynn Isaac
Scientific american, 1978

If we compare the food-sharing ex­planation with these alternative expla­nations we see that in fact food-sharing incorporates many aspects of each of the others. It will also be seen that in the food-sharing model the isolated ele­ments are treated as being integral parts of a complex. flexible system. The mod­el itself is probably an oversimplified version of what actually happened. but it seems sufficiently realistic to be wor­thy of testing through further archaeo­logical and paleontological research.

Une critique de « Man the hunter », curieusement accusé de donner trop d’importance au rôle des femmes dans l’approvisionnement des chasseurs-cueilleurs.

Myths about Hunter-Gatherers [Texte]
Carol R. Ember
Ethnology, 1978

Ember 1978 critique de man the hunter


Predation by female chimpanzees: Toward an understanding of sex differences in meat acquisition in the last common ancestor of Pan and Homo[Texte]
Gilby et al.
Journal of human evolution, 2017

There was no evidence that clinging offspring hampered female hunting. Instead, consistent with the hypothesis that females should be more risk-averse than males, females at all three sites specialized in low-cost prey (terrestrial/sedentary prey at Gombe; black and white colobus monkeys at Kanyawara).
[…] Although chimpanzees are not direct analogs of the last common ancestor (LCA) of Pan and Homo, these results suggest that before the emergence of social obligations regarding sharing and provisioning, constraints on hunting by LCA females did not necessarily stem from maternal care. Instead, they suggest that a risk-averse foraging strategy and the potential for losing prey to males limited female predation on vertebrates. Sex differences in hunting behavior would likely have preceded the evolution of the sexual division of labor among modern humans.

The social organization of Homo ergaster : inferences from anti-predator responses in extant primates [Abstract]
Willems & van Schaik
Journal of human evolution, 2017

We thus infer that H. ergaster lived in very large groups with many males that jointly defended the group against carnivorans, and argue that these counterattacks will readily have turned into confrontational scavenging and cooperative hunting, allowing Homo to move into the niche of social carnivore.
[…]in the 36 counter-attacks for which information on participation by the two sexes was available, males weremuch more frequently involved than females. Assuming a highlyconservative adult sex ratio of 1:1 (i.e., the most male-biased sexratio in the social unit of any taxon in our survey), Bonferroni cor-rected comparisons revealed that males participated significantlymore often than expected (exact binomial test:nparticipation¼34,ntotal¼36,p<0.001), while females did so significantly less oftenthan expected (exact binomial test:nparticipation¼9,ntotal¼36,p<0.01). In fact, males were about four times more likely to beinvolved in counter-attacks than females.


Elephants can determine ethnicity, gender, and age from acoustic cues in human voices [Texte]
McComb et al.
PNAS, 2014

Our results demonstrate that elephants can reliably discriminate between two different ethnic groups that differ in the level of threat they represent, significantly increasing their probability of defensive bunching and investigative smelling following playbacks of Maasai voices. Moreover, these responses were specific to the sex and age of Maasai presented, with the voices of Maasai women and boys, subcategories that would generally pose little threat, significantly less likely to produce these behavioral responses. Considering the long history and often pervasive predatory threat associated with humans across the globe, it is likely that abilities to precisely identify dangerous subcategories of humans on the basis of subtle voice characteristics could have been selected for in other cognitively advanced animal species.



%d blogueurs aiment cette page :