Thus while the men are engaged in productive labor, the women are engaged in unproductive household work that does not command the same amount of respect.
Traditionally, the role of an individual in society has been defined and characterized by the person’s contribution to home and society in monetary terms. Being tied down by the responsibility of childbearing, women in traditional, patriarchal societies have been viewed as an inferior race.
Women have been confined to homes due to their traditional roles of cooking, cleaning and child rearing. However, a study of Paleolithic and Neolithic times has proved that this was not always the case. In the hunting and gathering societies, it has been noticed that women had a greater role in gathering food around their homes.
Wermuth et al have defined womens economic power as being shaped by womens level of control over surplus and the relative importance of what they produce. They have also quoted womens economic control as being influenced by importance of womens labor, organization of labor and the gender ratio in the population.
Wermuth et al have also referred to hunting and gathering societies as small bands of loosely associated families with low surplus and low inequality. Men have little power over women in these societies. Mutual cooperation is necessary for survival, and the division of labor between men and women is functionally and materially based. Despite their hunting role, men often interact closely with women and even with small children.
Draper, Professor of Anthropology at Harvard observes that in the hunting and gathering society, women are more independent and powerful. They are not considered as subordinate to men and generally both the genders enjoy an equal status. As women in such societies contribute to gathering food for the families’ subsistence, they have greater control over the food (produce in this case) and enjoy an equal