According to Engels Leacock the early communal society was self-sufficient. Men and women work together and neither of them were dependent on each other. Thus there was a reciprocal division of labor. Also there was no distinction between the public world of men work and private world of women's household work. Both the sexes produced the goods necessary for livelihood. Thus in types of society goods were produced only for consumption to satisfy everyday needs.
Later on as the process of industrialization began goods were produced on a large scale, concepts of trading and exchange became common. Slowly in order to maximize their profits the capitalists started exploitation of the women and workers. This led to the isolation of family as a separate unit and the women were then confined to their families and thus the place of work and residence was separated.
In most societies certain tasks are predominantly assigned to men while others are assigned to women. In European and American cultures it is used to consider natural for men to be family bread earners and women were expected to take care of the home and raise the children. An underlying assumption of this division of labor was that men were dominant because their contribution to the material well being of the family was more significant than that of women. Women were dependent on men and therefore automatically sub-ordinate to them.
The naturalness of this division of labor has been called into question as women increasingly enter the labor force. Cross cultural research on the sexual division of labor attempts not only to describe the range of women's productive activities in societies with different modes of subsistence but also to assess the implications of these activities on the status of women.
In virtually all countries and among all classes women have lost ground to men. Oakley reports that one of the features of housewife is that women value are the feeling of autonomy. Just because housewives express their experiences in terms of enjoying being their own boss does not mean that their condition of work can be analyzed in terms of a high degree of autonomy. Firstly there is the prescription of certain kinds of feed for certain occasions. Secondly the food is to be ready within a specific time. Thirdly the control is exerted by the preference of the consumer which dictate the exact variant of the dinner to be served.
On the other hand working couples in an urban society have learned to share and cooperate in many ways.Men whose work shifts are different from those of their wives often cared for children while their wives worked. Husbands also helped their wives with the household chores but the subtle discrimination between the two sexes continued.