Gender equality and human evolution

Today there is a strong narrative about gender equality, patriarchal societies, and empowerment.
Human relationships can be seen as transactions of power : how much power you delegate to the other.

Why gender equality delayed so much to sprout?
Why is it sprouting in most advanced technological regions?
Does the patricarchal, cultural and education narrative make sense as a cause of societal development, when speaking at scale of centuries or millenniums?
Which is a proper time unit to measure human development, given exponential acceleration due tech and the commoditisation of tech ?
Is “education” the real driver to explain self-organisation of societies?

As Jared Diamond attempted to explain in his works, European region came to dominate for centuries not because of education, but for the context of natural resources that made a comparative advantage at start; similarly, there is a real agent of transformation in an “natural experiment” of History that a “cultural” narrative miss to capture — “patriarchal” either “matriarchal” structures are an effect rather than a cause.

Which is the cause of equality (or inequality) ? 
Effects of self-organisation in hierarchical structures.

The mechanism of delegating power forms self-organised hierarchical structures in sufficiently dense populations; this hierarchy grants asymmetric power to a certain group above another.

There is an economic law in network gain effect applied to economics: the distributor of information gain exponentially more that the producers.

You can observe it in many complex economic network: agricultural producers (farmers) struggle to keep a fraction of the food-chain, capitalised by large distributors; facebook, pick1, google, snapchat and all industry 2.0 and 3.0 internet companies capitalised as distributors of information produced by end-users, editors, blogs, small-micro entities; venture capitalist and networkers can capitalise on the R&D of a startup, as distributors of innovation rather than actual producers.

Explaining gender-inequality through history.

Economy is the technology of human transactions.
Due to the network gain effect, a complex society become more and more hierarchical — actually many many hierarchical networks co-exists .
Who represent hubs in a network (e.g. a company who dominate a market) or who represent the network itself (e.g. a public figure influencer) capitalise power as a network gain effect, but all the members belonging to the privileged network raise up (e.g. peers, accolades, family friends and “fools” who are close to the hub, employes and their families in dominating companies).

My hypothesis is people of male gender where functional to capitalise more in the past for the network gain effect — in Agriculture, the beginning of modern societies, and in the way Commerce was handled (in-person interactions and power transactions); now we are assisting to a transformation, where female people are becoming more functional to a network in which a whole global society is organised, becoming more and more functional to a new way Commerce is handled (virtual interactions and power transactions).

Role of Agriculture and In-Person interactions (Commerce 1.0)

At the beginning of sufficiently complex societies, there was agriculture, allowing other people to invest time as information traders — commercial people, priests and intellectuals, and then policy makers. Who represented most valuable information was at the apex of the pyramid: religious and military structures enforcing resilience and operational functions of an hierarchical organisation; then commercial traders. It may be reasonable to think male people were more fit, in general, to provide value outside domestic areas, because many jobs were labour intensive, and because of this they were more expose to the mechanism of power delegation at each transaction — network gain effect.

Role of virtual interactions (Commerce 2.0) and likelihood as a social asset

This lasted up to the internet era, and now that internet-economy allows (and impose) virtual interactions between people, finalised at networking events between peers with the same status, it may be reasonable to think that female people are mostly exposed to capitalise on the soft-skills required by modern technology to delegate and transact power.

Evolution of feminism, technology and governance of technology

With this interpretation, I see the evolution of feminism in modernity like:

  • in the ’20s suffragettes bridled industrial revolution to sparkle the rights to vote;
  • in ’40s Europe lost the imperialistic monopoly (e.g. commonwealth and colonialism) of technology and commerce, due to war, at the same time meeting rights to women as a labour force to fuel industrial demand of warfare;
  • in ’50s — ‘60s baby boomers met the women iconography as functional to advertisement and symbology of consumerism, perceived as “freedom”;
  • in ’70s central European feminism protested against objectification of women, advocating for meritocracy and fighting aesthetics as a depletive of a person potential — and consequently, against a “free market” of services based on sales of own body (Germany ‘70s), as opposed to it as an opportunity of entrepreneurship of own body stemmed from crowd-sourced sex-jobs (2010s).

But in 2000s ? Aesthetics is so functional to self-empowerment, that Femen movement used it as a mean for propaganda (“a body as a weapon”).

Internet 3.0 technology: effects on gender equality
Social Networks marked the importance of being likeable as a proxy of being a good person.
It is a new option to feel in control and to estimate self-value in a society.
So there is a transformation from the feminism during economic boom, questioning fact a person is not an object, to the gender functional to social network era, where objectification and commoditisation of own images are assertive quantitative measures to imply reputation and own value to thousands and thousands of people.

I believe there is an appreciable asymmetry in the rates of likes (Instagram), positive comments (Facebook), referrals and endorsement (linkedIn) between representatives of different genders who can interpret (or set) a standard aesthetics in visual content, the form of language most dominant in social networks — this looks to be especially true for feminine genders, like women, and trans-personalities became celebrities.

It could come from different subjective motivations (mirroring in the life of the others; mirroring in the success perceived from the others; mirroring desires; buying into products (including opinions) that put in favourable condition to speak within closed groups; being connected and feeling included) — but the fact is that, even without a personal interaction, one gain exponential exposure, which an opportunity functional to networking and distribution of information between people. This is a privilege position to exploit a network gain effect with digital technologies that opened up to not-in person interactions, and as a consequence they can raise up own status and assert own preference over new opportunities (such as contractual power in working as well as private life).

Since economy will become more and more digitalised, who behold a functional aesthetic to transact opinions between followers becomes more exposed to capitalise network gain effects from followers, directly or as paid influencer — a “digital” trader capitalising on the information that is consumed by end-users.
By functional aesthetic I refer not only to how many likes a selfie can bring on Instagram or over social networks; although visual content is also functional to job market — rich social profiles appeals recruiters to scout for likeable person in a working environment — aesthetic is also the capability to interpreting and bridle the principles of digital transformation, like a degree of soft-skills proper to different digital as well as real context.
That is, a functional aesthetic is the ability to timely interpret the symbols to articulate a social grammar with which a global society speaks, negotiate, trade and delegate trust.

So it may have been that a minor biological fitness to fill demand of labour and in-person interactions from Agricultural societies may actually have been in favour of a male people and lasted progressively less up to Trade societies in 1800: the network gain effect stressed this minor difference so much over centuries.
Only recently, from the industrial revolution, the fitness to fill demand of Trade in digital commerces and virtual interactions may go in favour of female gender — maybe simply because historically their image have been associated to beauty, which is functional to mirror positive expectations — sympathising with who is imagined to be a positive experience is the only tangible value in not-in person interactions on digital platforms, network technologies that stresses thenetwork gain effect to capitalise on exposure as influencers.

Which consequences ?
Hierarchical structures are not moral — they do not carry elements of ethics.
We can judge the past as unjust, but actually the majority of people living at a certain time acted accordingly to what they believe functional and correct to the context the lived into. The rapidity of change goes with the rate of technology enabling circulation and questioning of opinions.

As such, I don’t believe that culture or education can be any reasonable agent of change. It is necessary, but not sufficient. 
Moreover, the cultural narrative embraces only a generation or two — it is functional to interpret a photography of the world we currently we live in, not its dynamics. 
And so, I think that narratives advocating for equality between groups are favourable to advocate for the group they belong to, not necessarily equally opportunities for all in a society, and this may be a missed opportunity in human development. Peers within your own group could gain an advantage and perceive amelioration yet discriminate ones who do not belong to your group.

What is then important is to realise that, no matter of gender, a person covering a key role in hierarchical social structure will tend to behave as the context requires — that is, if you are in a hub position which cannot be accounted for responsibility by the cultural, you will tend to abuse of power.
In the ’80s there was movements claiming that “male” gender was destructive, “female gender” creative, that if “gentle sex” would have been in power, they would have not committed to war with brutality like males. And Abu Dhabi scandal shown that it was not true, and that unchecked soldiers will have higher possibility to abuse of power, it does not matter if women or not.

What about same-sex interactions ?

Marriages are, at sufficiently large scale, contracts to negotiate power between people in a society. Interestingly, a census over 3M of families in US shows that female gender and same-sex relationships tend to bond with people who holds at least the same status, not lower.

It may be an heritage of the initial modern era, where the “less empowered” group had the possibility to rank up (read, gain opportunities) by marital status, and less a biological motive of assigning roles for procuring “food” and “means” to males and “domestic” roles to women.

Indeed income, as a proxy of social status in hierarchical societies, shows there is a transformation in house-holds: the decision-maker is the one who gain more, disregarding from gender:

Why transformation seems to happen all of it now, and not centuries ago?

It is actually not true. In Spartan society female people were well represented: they had a role in political life as well as in military life. During Medieval time, there have been cases of women earning more than men — Duchess Beatrix Savoia, in XVI century — and a part of population gradually start to be exposed to capability to capitalise on human-interactions. Until modernity, when indeed tech information start to accelerate at a much faster rate.

Which is a proper “time-unit” to consider human evolution?
Instead thinking that human developement stalled for centuries in stagnation due to paternalism or any other cultural darkness, I think it makes sense to think of flows of “knowledge” and “know-how” per time-unit. 
It is not that males was patriarchies for centuries because they were evil, or myopic, but rather because it was taking a lot of time for innovation to flow around a region, and so the group of people already holding power where less frequently challenged by others who could capitalise on new way of human-interactions enabled by technology.

I can now draw some conclusions.

  • Modern societies stems from new types of activities enabled by technological innovation (starting from Agriculture and accumulation of food stocks).
  • Modern societies (≥ 10K people, as order of magnitude) self-organises in complex networks.
    Who is more exposed to capitalise the network gain effect, will rank up and will be in position to assert own authority in new opportunities.
    Some modern technologies functional to market/delegate power in complex networks: voting systems; “like-able” / trustable opinions; click-bait and content-distributors technologies.
  • Gender equality is happening because of technology and new economic models based on new technologies, not because a cultural narrative.
    In fact, it is happening without any clear understanding of the dynamics of interaction between societal members.
    In order to pursue for equality of opportunities, we should question the mechanism of network-gain on societal networks, rather than question who benefit from it in a certain period of time and infer a cultural interpretation as a causing agent. Should there be an anti-trust ? How does background context of an influencer impact on the influencer choices and its accountability?
  • The structure of modern society does not say anything on how people are made innerly, on their individual interpretations of what is good or bad, or the inner qualities they want to express: people process the context where they live in ways that are more or less functional to live it. But, zooming out at a societal scale, it tell us how much the context will influence our own individual life. That is, new social technology urges to learn soft-skills. Being like-able is a tool of emancipation, and modernity has to cope with the fact that technology distributing opinions at scale is privately owned, and exposure to opinions reflects patterns to harness consumption of like-able content.