Anthropologically speaking (Meaning I get to use my degree!!!) The “traditional” roles went something like this:
Man = hunter. The men go out and hunt and it is feast or famine time. No preservatives save salt and no refrigeration meant that when the guys brought home a mammoth, giraffe, hippo, etc. everyone eats REALLY well for several days until the meat spoils.
Woman = gatherer. Women were the sustaining workers of the population. Most tribes moved not so much to follow big game but to follow the season availability of vegetation.
Therefore during the non hunting times, men stayed home and watched the kids and generally made themselves useful however they could while the women went out to gather berries and tubers when times were good, or grass seed when times were REALLY bad.
During the hunting times, the women took children with them as they gathered. Men were out hunting and bringing back the goods.
The taking care of the children was generally done by the least busy party related to the hunting seasons.
It was only with the rise of farming and herding that we start to see defined gender roles come into play and these vary by area though most were of the men go and women stay varieties.
Organized “taboos” about women going out and/or men staying home didn’t truly arrive until the end of the first big industrial boom when laws were enacted to limit the amount of work that could be done by women and children.
These became more entrenched in western culture starting in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s when the economy was booming and we reached a point (a fairly unique point actually) where a family of four could be provided for by one worker.
Combining these economic gains with the cultural mindset of the returning military men who were not able to handle the idea of being the ‘kept man’ of Rosie the Riveter and we see the deepening of the cultural mores of a male dominated society as can be demonstrated simply by watching the indoctrinating propaganda (err - Television entertainment) of the era which stridently defined the roles of both men and women into the weak female/strong male roles even to the point of slightly
misogynistic behaviors (one of these day Alice , POW, to the moon)
The rise of the strong male image and the acceptance of understated misogynistic behavior was also, not coincidentally, equated with the rise of neo-Puritanism and the rise of fundamental protestantism, but that is a rant for another time.