Evolutionary Anthropology Society
Oral Presentation Session
Katie Starkweather (University of New Mexico)
Many families around the world rely on the products of women's work to provide for children and sustain the household. However, women also face constraints from pregnancy and breastfeeding. Although women's work is often more compatible with childcare than men's work, the extent of compatibility varies across time and between and within cultures, forcing women to make decisions about reproduction strategically in order to balance their roles as producers and reproducers. Among semi-nomadic, traditionally boat-dwelling Shodagor in rural Bangladesh, women's occupations represent differences in compatibility with childcare: housewives and fishers are able to complete their work while caring for children, but traders cannot (or at least do not). This talk will examine differences in reproductive decision-making related to Shodagor women's occupations. In qualitative interviews, traders indicate making decisions about birth spacing and timing, desired family size, and weaning in a way that allows them to minimize their time away from work, but women in the other occupations do not. Quantitative data bears out these differences in some respects, but not others. I will discuss the evolutionary and cross-cultural implications of these findings, as well as next steps for this work.