Dr. Rebecca Bliege Bird

Department of Anthropology, Penn State University

Dr. Rebecca Bliege Bird

Department of Anthropology, Penn State University

Landscapes of gender: social and ecological influences on the division of foraging labor in desert Australia.

Traditional perspectives on the gender division of labor focus on the evolved constraints of being a human female, including the requirements of child bearing and rearing. While these constraints are important, emphasizing them tends to produce overgeneralizations about the cross-cultural uniformity of the human gender division of labor, which leads to a lack of attention toward the social and ecological processes that pattern variability in how and why men and women work differently. Using data collected over a 16 year period in Western Australia, I explore how well some traditional expectations about the gender division of foraging labor explain sex differences in Martu foraging decisions, and how sharing, signaling, age, risk, and environmental variability influences the extent to which women and men forage differently.