While alcohol consumption is an activity enjoyed by both men and women across the world, there are a number of prevailing cultural notions about the ways that people (are supposed to) drink that are deeply rooted in old, gendered stereotypes. For example, men drink beer and hard liquor, while women drink wine and delicate cocktails.
Some of the logic behind these ideas is tangentially based on the fact that men and women’s bodies process alcohol at drastically different rates, but there is also a degree to which drinking, regardless of the specific alcohol, is seen by some as a man’s activity inappropriate for women.
Yet, according to a new analysis, women are finally drinking all manners of booze at the same rate as men for the first time in global history. The research, conducted by Columbia University and the University of New South Wales in Australia, examined nearly 70 different international studies over a period of 60 years. The report found that while men born in between the years of 1891 and 1910 were more than twice as likely the report drinking, by the 1990s, men were only 1x more likely to drink than women.
“Findings confirm the closing male– female gap in indicators of alcohol use and related harms,” the study’s researchers explained. “The closing gap is most evident among young adults, highlighting the importance of prospectively tracking young male and female cohorts as they age into their 30s, 40s and beyond.”
As The Atlantic points out, the shrinking of the drinking gap is likely the byproduct of the drastic shrinking of other gender-based gaps, like employment and education, that have steadily lead to women earning more money, autonomy, and social freedom to drink as they wish.
But, as the new study’s authors note, the gap in the rates of alcohol-related health issues like addiction and abuse is also closing. While men were three times more likely to report being addicted to booze in the late 19th century, millennial men and women more or less report similar rates of addiction and because rates of addiction in men haven’t fallen, that means that rates of women developing alcohol dependence have risen significantly.