Gender Roles in Economics

Traditionally, men left home and faced danger to bring home food while women took care of the household. In recent times, men's roles still take them further from home more often; but women are engaging increasingly in extradomestic activities. Yet, neither now nor in the past were specific occupations the exclusive domain of either gender (Kirkpatrick, 1983; Thomas, 1987a, 1990).

Prior to contact, men tended to be involved in raising pigs, planting and gathering arboricultural and root crops (e.g., breadfruit and taro), fishing, fighting wars, and making tools and structures from stone and wood. By contrast, women were primarily responsible for raising children, cleaning house, and making tapa cloth and woven mats, baskets, sails, etc. However, both men and women contributed to the production and preparation of foods (though women were subject to more tapu as to when and how they could cook for whom). For both men and women, one's social class largely defined what one did, with male and female commoners and male craft specialists doing much more of the productive labor than elite men or women.

At present, men fish, hunt (pigs, goats, and cattle), and cut copra; they do at least a year of military service, emigrate for work in Tahiti or France, work as laborers, and make tourist crafts out of wood or stone. Women cook, clean house, and look after the children. However, men do not consider it degrading to help with children or housework, especially food preparation. Meanwhile, women sometimes cut copra, fish from the shore (seldom from boats, an artefact of the old tapu against women entering canoes), grow root crops, and process arboricul-tural crops. More and more women make money from crafts or as salaried employees.

There is a long tradition of women gaining a better education, being more literate, and speaking a more standard French than men. As a result, women find better-paid employment as teachers, nurses, social workers, and office assistants. Nonetheless, the majority of the top positions are still filled by the fewer men who have performed as well and stayed in school as long (Riley, 2001).

Interestingly, women had the right to own property prior to contact (Ferdon, 1993), whereas French law gave women no such rights until the latter half of the 19 th century. However, as the French substantially rectified gender-based economic inequalities over the course of the 20th century, coincident with 'Enana's fuller incorporation into the global economy, female 'Enana are now faring relatively well in the economic sphere.

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