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Women more likely than men to accept scientific consensus on global warming, study finds

Date:
September 15, 2010
Source:
Michigan State University
Summary:
Women tend to believe the scientific consensus on global warming more than men, according to a new study. The findings challenge common perceptions that men are more scientifically literate, the study's author says.

Women tend to believe the scientific consensus on global warming more than men, according to a study by a Michigan State University researcher.

The findings, published in the September issue of the journal Population and Environment, challenge common perceptions that men are more scientifically literate, said sociologist Aaron M. McCright.

"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," said McCright, an associate professor with appointments in MSU's Department of Sociology, Lyman Briggs College and Environmental Science and Policy Program.

The study is one of the first to focus in-depth on how the genders think about climate change. The findings also reinforce past research that suggests women lack confidence in their science comprehension.

"Here is yet another study finding that women underestimate their scientific knowledge -- a troubling pattern that inhibits many young women from pursuing scientific careers," McCright said.

Understanding how the genders think about the environment is important on several fronts, said McCright, who calls climate change "the most expansive environmental problem facing humanity."

"Does this mean women are more likely to buy energy-efficient appliances and hybrid vehicles than men?" he said. "Do they vote for different political candidates? Do they talk to their children differently about global warming?"

McCright analyzed eight years of data from Gallup's annual environment poll that asked fairly basic questions about climate change knowledge and concern. He said the gender divide on concern about climate change was not explained by the roles that men and women perform such as whether they were homemakers, parents or employed full time.

Instead, he said the gender divide likely is explained by "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, McCright said.

"Women and men think about climate change differently," he said. "And when scientists or policymakers are communicating about climate change with the general public, they should consider this rather than treating the public as one big monolithic audience."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Michigan State University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Aaron M. McCright. The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public. Population and Environment, 2010; 32 (1): 66 DOI: 10.1007/s11111-010-0113-1

Cite This Page:

Michigan State University. "Women more likely than men to accept scientific consensus on global warming, study finds." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 September 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914115238.htm>.
Michigan State University. (2010, September 15). Women more likely than men to accept scientific consensus on global warming, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914115238.htm
Michigan State University. "Women more likely than men to accept scientific consensus on global warming, study finds." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/09/100914115238.htm (accessed April 16, 2014).

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