Why American Women Accept Climate Change Science More Than Men

Treehugger1 This week, Treehugger reported on a recent survey conducted by Michigan State University that explains why American women are more accepting of climate change science than men. The author of the survey, sociologist Aaron McCright explains the contributing factors that include society and identity. The study also makes the connection between the perception that women have an inferior understanding of science compared to men, and women's greater acceptance of global warming science.  

Posted Sept. 14, 2010

By Matthew McDermott, Treehugger

Ever wonder why it seems the most vocal climate change skeptics are men? A new study by Michigan State Univ. sociologist Aaron McCright, published in the journal Population and Environment says that women do tend to believe the scientific consensus that global warming is indeed happening and mostly caused by human activity more than men do. Here's why:

After examining eight years of polling data on environmental issues, McCright says that the gender divide on climate change does not come down to the roles performed by men and women within society but come down to differences in gender socialization:

According to this theory, boys in the United States learn that masculinity emphasizes detachment, control and mastery. A feminine identity, on the other hand, stresses attachment, empathy, and care–traits that may make it easier to feel concern about the potential dire consequences of global warming. (Science Codex)

Interestingly, McCright also makes the connection between women's acceptance of climate change and commonly held views about how men are more scientifically literate.

McCright says, "Men still claim they have a better understanding of global warming than women, even though women's beliefs align much more closely with the scientific consensus. Here is yet another study finding that women underestimate their scientific knowledge–a troubling pattern that inhibits many young women from pursuing scientific careers."

Read the original study: The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public [PDF]


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