Although Darwin produced a biased study on gender roles in society, his intention was to simply observe. Others however used Darwin's work to keep women out of the business world and in the home. Strong gender roles were established and existed into very recent history.
This video shows the stereotypes placed on a working woman in the 1950's:
The video clearly demonstrates that women were seen as second class citizens even recently. Although women
had been granted the right to vote, their place in society still did not match that of a man's. They were expected to
drop their work life immediately once they were married and had a family. Today that is not the way of thinking for
everyone, but many of Darwin's ideas are still prevalent in our stereotypes of beauty and female body image.
Overall my revelation changed the way I view Darwin's work. Having learned about evolution several times in
elementary and high school, I was just given the overview of his theories of natural selection and the idea of "survival
of the fittest." However now I look at Darwin with a more critical eye. I still believe in his theory but I see that it
was not a perfect study and as could happen with any scientist, his work was influenced by his surroundings. It also
gave me a greater understanding of how Darwin has affected my personal life. Clearly human's have been
produced due to natural selection, but being a female, my life has been influenced by more than that. I am
targeted by media and cosmetics companies, striving for an ideal beauty and if I choose to enter corporate America,
am still going to have to fight harder than my male counterparts for the same job, rank or salary.
Appleman, Philip, ed. Darwin. 3rd ed. New York: W.W.Norton, 2001.
Davies, Norman. Europe: A History. New York: HarperPerennial, 1998.