Female dominance in human groups: Effects of sex ratio and conflict level

Katherine Stroebe*, Bernard A. Nijstad, Charlotte K. Hemelrijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Compared to men, women less often attain high-level positions and generally have lower status in society. In smaller groups, the relative influence of men and women depends on gender composition, but research is inconclusive regarding the relation between gender composition and female influence. Studies of nonhuman primates show that when females are in the minority they become more dominant over males, but only when conflict levels are high, because under these conditions men fight among each other. Similarly, here we show, in two studies with mixed gender groups (N = 90 and N = 56), that women were more dominant in groups with a high percentage of men and high levels of conflict. This depends on gender differences in aggressive behavior, inducing more aggressive behavior in women eliminated this increase in female dominance. Our work reveals that status relations between the genders among nonhuman primates can generalize to humans.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-218
Number of pages10
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Volume8
Issue number2
Early online date28-Sep-2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar-2017

Keywords

  • female dominance
  • conflict
  • sex ratio
  • gender group composition
  • gender inequality
  • DECISION-MAKING GROUPS
  • SMALL WORK GROUPS
  • EVOLUTIONARY PERSPECTIVE
  • GENDER COMPOSITION
  • WOMEN
  • MEN
  • METAANALYSIS
  • STYLES
  • PARTICIPATION
  • AGGRESSION

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