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On the Origin of Gender Roles: Women and the Plough

11 June 2012
Ex Boccherini - Piazza S. Ponziano 6 (Conference Room )
This study seeks to better understand the historical origins of cross-cultural differences in beliefs about the appropriate role of women in society. We test the hypothesis that traditional agricultural practices influenced the historical gender division of labor and the evolution and persistence of gender norms. We find that, consistent with existing hypotheses, the descendants of societies that traditionally practiced plough agriculture, today have less equal gender norms, measured using reported gender-role attitudes and female participation in the workplace, politics and entrepreneurial activities. To test for the importance of culture, we examine second-generation immigrants living within Europe and the United States. We find that even among individuals born and raised in the same country, those with a heritage of traditional plough use exhibit less equal beliefs about gender roles today.
Giuliano, Paola - University of California - Los Angeles