During the evolutionary adaptation time period, between 10-40 thousand years ago, our ancestors were hunter-gatherers. This created a division between men and women. The men would hunt for food and the women would be in charge of the domestic duties such as cleaning and cooking. Doing the domestic chores would have kept women more protected, as it is less strenuous and would have guarded the camp whilst the men were out hunting therefore increasing the chances of reproductive success. This division of labour would have made them less likely to sustain injuries and so the evolutionary approach would suggest that the groups who divided the labour were been more likely to survive; this explains how gender roles have evolved over time. This behaviour was passed on generation after generation through either natural selection or indeed sexual selection.
Gender role behaviours related to adaptive reproductive strategies. Such as men trying to have sex with as many females as possible. Women however were much more invested so that their offspring. These traits, of investment level compared to masculinity and femininity, were passed down as a desired behaviour. Trivers 1972 suggested that the differences between the genders were due to the varying levels of parental investment. This investment by the parent increased the offspring’s chance of survival. The qualities and behaviours that led to reproductive success were different in females and males
Baron-Cohen 2002 suggested, in their E-S theory, that male hunters gained an evolutionary advantage systematising over women who were much more empathetic. With their theory they suggested that during stress responses, men tend to be adapted for flight or fight. Where as females normally tend and befriend. Shields 1975 suggested that men and women evolved to have roles that complemented each other, in order for both genders to survive.