Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access



Faculty Mentor

Lauren Wynne


Presented during the 21st Annual Summer Fellows Symposium, July 19, 2019 at Ursinus College.

Project Description

It is generally accepted among anthropologists that there has never been a true matriarchy which mirrors the power structures present in a patriarchy. My research is focused on why that is. How can we account for women as a class being beneath men economically, politically, and/or socially in nearly every time and place? This question guided my research towards how power structures develop, how power is defined, and why men seem to gain more power as a class than women. Approaching this research from an anthropological standpoint, I applied my findings surrounding power and gender relations to the Iroquois Confederacy's culture in the 17th century. While none of the Iroquois tribes exemplified a true matriarchy, the power relations in their society pre-colonization were closer to egalitarian, with women holding higher status and authority than they do in patriarchal societies. Searching for past matriarchal and egalitarian societies, investigating the origins of patriarchy, and looking at how an individual's roles affect their status in society are important endeavors in challenging women's secondary status and lead to poignant sociological questions.


Available to Ursinus community only.