Historical Overview Throughout history, women have made major economic contributions to their societies and families through their labor. Archaeological evidence from prehistory through to written evidence of history clearly discounts the “nonworking” woman or “female frailty” myths that supposedly kept women from engaging in demanding work. Even today women grow and process over half of the world’s food, and in the developing world, women’s subsistence agricultural activities are essential to feeding their families (Chapter 6). To explain the world of work for women, sociologists focus on four major types of production in which women have traditionally engaged: producing goods or services for consumption within the household, producing goods or services at home for sale or exchange elsewhere (cottage industry), caregiving and volunteer work, and working for pay.