Gender refers to culturally constructed distinctions between femininity and masculinity. Individuals are born female or male but they become feminine or masculine through complex developmental processes that take many years to unfold. For example, women usually look after babies while men are the providers. The evolutionary approach argues that gender role division appears as an adaptation to the challenges faced by the ancestral humans in the EEA. Therefore, the role differences we observe are more a product of our biological inheritance than acquired through socialisation
As the evolutionary approach is a biological one, it suggests that aspects of human behaviour have been coded by our genes because they were or are adaptive. However, a debate of this approach is the nature vs. nurture approach, nature supporting the evolutionary approach being that we have evolved through survival value and its ability to increase an individuals opportunities to pass on their genes, an example showing this was Bowlby’s theory of attachment – concerning the role of evolution is the explanation of stress as an adaptive response to environmental pressures. Animals born without such responses die quickly. Nurture, on the other hand, is a view proposed by the social approach suggesting behaviour is affected by experience and environment.
To support the evolutionary perspective, the division of labour was shown to be an advantage. Men were the hunter gathers, breadwinners, while the mother was at home acting as the ‘angel of the house’ and looking after the children. If a women was to hunt, this would reduce the group’s reproductive success, as the woman was the one who was pregnant or producing milk. Although, the women could contribute to the important business of growing food, making clothing and shelter and so on. This enhances reproductive success but it also important in avoiding starvation – an