Top 5 Signs That Women Are Converging With Men

Modern women take greater risks and are more interested in casual sex.

Posted Jul 16, 2015

Fairly rigid gender divisions of the past are giving way to a much more equal relationship. Women are beginning to act, and feel more like men even as men's actions and sensibilities are converging with women. What are the unmistakable signs that women are becoming more like men?

1. Participation in Workforce

In the evolutionary past, women likely gathered more food than men contributed from hunting. In agricultural societies, and in post-industrial-revolution ones, men adopted the breadwinner role and married women were more dependent on their husbands.

This trend is reversing as more married women participate in the paid workforce. In 1900, about half of single women worked for pay but most stopped working at, or soon after, marriage, and never worked again. Labor participation rates of married women in the U.S. soared from 6 percent in 1900 to 61 percent in 2000 (1). This implies that their economic role is equivalent to that of men.

Women are also much more ambitious, as illustrated by their rising share of bachelor's degrees, from a small minority of 19 percent in 1900 to a distinct majority of 56 percent in 2000 (1). Female competitiveness in jobs and education is underscored by increased interest in sports.

2. Increased Participation in Contact Sports

Female participation in sports is historically much lower than male participation. From an anthropological perspective, sports are associated with warfare, both as a form of physical training, and also as a way of demonstrating physical preparedness for battle. Neglect of female sport reflected a belief that physical competition (like warfare) was more masculine than feminine.

Low participation rates by women in sports was partly due to a lack of facilities that 1972 Title IX legislation sought to remedy. At this time, there were only 4 percent of U.S. high school women participating in team sports and participation shot up to 25 percent within a quarter century bringing female participation close to that of males.

3. Increased Risk-Taking

Modern women are behaving much more like men when it comes to risk-taking and aggression. One sign of this phenomenon is greater participation in contact sports and dangerous competitions such as horse racing or car racing. According to Anthropologist Elizabeth Cashdan (2), in societies where women compete more amongst each other whether in occupations, or over spouses, their level of testosterone increases. High testosterone is correlated with risk-taking and aggression.

There are far more women driving on the roads today and they drive more aggressively and dangerously than ever before. Consequently, their accident rates have risen from very low levels. Young women are almost as dangerous on the roads as young men whose aggression and recklessness make driving so much more dangerous for everyone else. Reckless driving is associated with increased use of alcohol and recreational drugs.

4. Increased Physical Aggression

Physical strength is clearly one risk factor for committing violent crimes and this helps explain why so many of the perpetrators are men. Another key reason for the gender difference is that men fight over women more than women fight over men.

In the past, female involvement in organized crime was minimal and largely due to association with gangster husbands or boyfriends. All that is changing and women are beginning to claim a slice of the action as gender equality moves into violent crime as well as other high-risk activities.

As women have begun to take leadership positions in large corporations, they have also acted as leaders in criminal enterprises. One of the most successful Latin American drug kingpins was a Colombian woman, Griselda Bianco, known as La Madrina, who ran an extensive U.S. operation from Miami.

Given the many other ways in which women have come to resemble men of the past, it is no surprise to learn that their level of violent crime is on the rise This is showing up both as fighting between girls of school age and participation in more serious crimes, such as aggravated assaults where female rates are soaring. The proportion of women in the U. S. correctional system doubled between 1985 and 1998 (from about 0.5 to 1 percent, 3)

5. Increased Interest in Casual Sex

Whether they are violent or not, women might reasonably be much less interested in casual sex than men based on the greater biological investment by women than men in children. Since males give less than they get in terms of biological investment in offspring, they are more eager to mate. As countries become more affluent, however, women get more interested in casual sex and masculine interest declines so that the gender difference vanishes (4).

Why do women in developed countries become more interested in casual sex? One reason is that contraception removes most of the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Another factor is that their hormone profile changes in response to competition at work, and over mates thereby increasing sex drive and risk taking (2). Moreover, in an environment where three-quarters of women are sexually active before marriage by age 19 (1) the coy strategy of postponing sex until after marriage is not a winner.

1 Caplow, T., Hicks, L., & Wattenberg, B. J. (2001). The first measured century: An illustrated guide to trends in America, 1900-2000. La Vergne: TX: AEI Press.

2 Cashdan, E. (2008). Waist-to-hip ratios across cultures: Trade-offs between androgen- and estrogen-dependent traits. Current Anthropology, 49, 1099-1107.

3 Greenfeld, L. A. and Snell, T. L. (1999). Women offenders. Washington, DC: U. S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics.

4 Barber, N. (2008). Cross-national variation in the motivation for uncommitted sex: The impact of disease and social risks. Evolutionary Psychology, 6, 217-228.