Research shows how gender bias dates back to before the Middle Ages

Research from the University of Washington in the United States has shown that modern gender norms and prejudices in Europe have deep historical roots dating back to the Middle Ages, they officially reported today.

The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) journal, highlight why gender norms have remained stubbornly persistent in many parts of the world despite significant strides made by the international movement for of women’s rights in the last 100-150 years.

For the investigation, dental records were taken from more than 10,000 people from 139 archaeological sites throughout Europe, where the researchers discovered that individuals who live in areas that historically favored men over women today show more prejudices in favor of of men than those who live in places where gender relations were more equal, reported the agency DPA

This suggests that gender attitudes are “transmitted” or passed from generation to generation, the research indicated.

In this sense, although the scientists remarked that prejudices survived the different socioeconomic and political changes, it was discovered that in the regions that experienced an abrupt and large-scale population replacement, such as a pandemic or a natural disaster, the transmission of these values ​​was discontinued.

“The average age of the skeletons in this study is about 1,000 years and dates back to medieval times. It is therefore remarkable that the patterns of gender bias that existed at that time, and before, continue to be reproduced in attitudes contemporary,” said Margit Tavits, professor of arts and sciences at the University of Washington.

Later, Tavits remarked that “the belief has spread that gender norms are a by-product of structural and institutional factors such as religion and agricultural practices.”

And he added “our conclusions draw attention to the fact that gender equality norms transmitted from one generation to the next can persist even though institutions or structures encourage inequality, and vice versa.”

According to Tavits, studying gender norms in Europe is advantageous given the relative similarity of various institutional and environmental conditions across the region.

One of the details that the study emphasized was that people who lived in a historically egalitarian area were 20% more likely to have pro-women attitudes than those who lived in historically more pro-men areas.

Finally, the researcher indicated that “together, these results support the idea that historical prejudices persist because they are transmitted from one generation to another, and only occur when the transmission between generations is not interrupted. We were surprised that a relationship emerged so clear.”

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