Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

The Bonobo Sisterhood: Lessons on Society & Leadership from the Great Apes

Diane L. Rosenfeld

People like to think humanity is at the top of cultural achievement, the pinnacle of evolution’s craftwork. But one glance at the daily headlines proves that we have problems. Lots of problems. And across all nations, there’s a glaring problem that hits hard over half our population: sexism. From subtle misogyny to outright violent abuse, women continue to be left on the outside of patriarchies…of a man’s world.

That’s not the case with bonobos. They’re our close evolutionary relatives: apes with whom we share 98.7% of our DNA. And their society is very equal. They share parenting duties and food amongst the entire group. And the females defend each other when needed, banding together like sisters regardless of status, age, or friendship. It’s the Bonobo Sisterhood, and guest Diane Rosenfeld tells us there’s a lot our political and corporate leaders can learn from these primates who show just how primitive people can be in comparison!

For daily wisdom from our guests, be sure to follow us on Mastodon: @InnoLeader .


Diane L. Rosenfeld, J.D., LL.M., is Founding Director of the Gender Violence Program and Lecturer on Law at Harvard Law School.

Her breakthrough legal work, research, and arguments have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Glamour, and more. Her op-eds have been featured in the Washington Post, Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, cnn.com, and the Harvard Crimson.

She served as the first Senior Counsel to the Office on Violence Against Women at the U.S. Department of Justice and as an Executive Assistant Attorney General in Illinois. In 2007, she created and taught the first legal seminar on Title IX in the country, which continues to this day at Harvard Law School. She also advised the Obama Administration on the prevention of campus sexual assault and contributed to the Presidential Task Force on Protecting Students from Sexual Assault.