In China, the painful custom of binding young girls’ feet to alter their shape began in the 10th century and continued for a millennium, until it was outlawed in 1911.

Although the practice did not truly end until the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949, by 1990 China’s female labor-force participation rate had climbed to 73% — well above the OECD average.

In 15th-century Europe, women started wearing corsets, often reinforced with wood, bone or even metal, designed to mold the upper body into a V-shape. Comfortable clothing that was easier to move in came into fashion only over the course of the 20th century. And yet today, several European countries have the highest rankings in terms of gender parity across various dimensions.