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article imageStudy: Women more likely to believe in global warming than men

By Lynn Herrmann     Sep 15, 2010 in Environment
East Lansing - A new study by a Michigan State University researcher shows women tend to take the scientific community’s consensus on global warming more seriously compared to men.
Aaron McCright, a sociologist at Michigan State University has found that women’s beliefs on global warming are more closely aligned with the scientific community on global warming than men’s, challenging some common-held beliefs that men are more scientifically literate.
“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 in MSU’s Department of Sociology.
The study, The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public, takes an in-depth look at how genders think about climate change reports, and also reinforces previous research that suggest women lack conviction in their science comprehension.
McCright, who considers climate change to be “the most serious and expansive environmental problem” facing humanity, says it is important on several fronts to understand the thought process of genders in relation to the environment.
“Does this mean women are more likely to buy energy-efficient appliances and hybrid vehicles than men?” he asked. “Do they vote for different political candidates? Do they talk to their children differently about global warming?”
McCright likens the gender divide to “gender socialization.” He theorizes that young boys in the US are taught that masculinity is a sign of control, mastery and detachment, whereas the female identity more easily connects with attachment, care and empathy. Those traits help determine concerns for the environment, he said.
“Women and men think about climate change differently. And when scientists or policy makers are communicating about climate change with the general public, they should consider this rather than treating the public as one big monolithic audience,” he added.
The data was obtained as a result of analyzing research from the annual Gallup Poll surveys focusing on environmental issues, between March 2001-2008.
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