New perspectives on the evolution of women's cooperation

Stephanie A. Fox, Brooke Scelza, Joan Silk, Karen L. Kramer

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


A holistic, evolutionary framework about human cooperation must incorporate information about women's cooperative behaviour. Yet, most empirical research on human cooperation has centered on men's behaviour or been derived from experimental studies conducted in western, industrialized populations. These bodies of data are unlikely to accurately represent human behavioural diversity. To address this gap and provide a more balanced view of human cooperation, this issue presents substantial new data and multi-disciplinary perspectives to document the complexity of women's cooperative behaviour. Research in this issue 1) challenges narratives about universal gender differences in cooperation, 2) reconsiders patrilocality and access to kin as constraints on women's cooperation, 3) reviews evidence for a connection between social support and women's health and 4) examines the phylogenetic roots of female cooperation. Here, we discuss the steps taken in this issue toward a more complete and evidence-based understanding of the role that cooperation plays in women's and girls' lives and in building human sociality. This article is part of the theme issue 'Cooperation among women: evolutionary and cross-cultural perspectives'.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20210424
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1868
StatePublished - Jan 16 2023


  • cooperation
  • evolution
  • prosociality
  • sex differences
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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