We follow archaeological research and employ skeletal records of women’s and men’s health from 139 archaeological sites in Europe dating back, on average, to about 1200 AD to construct a site-level indicator of historical bias in favor of one gender over the other using dental linear enamel hypoplasias. This historical measure of gender bias significantly predicts contemporary gender attitudes, despite the monumental socioeconomic and political changes that have taken place since.

We also show that this persistence is most likely due to the intergenerational transmission of gender norms, which can be disrupted by significant population replacement. Our results demonstrate the resilience of gender norms and highlight the importance of cultural legacies in sustaining and perpetuating gender (in)equality today.