Women, Men Differ on Climate Attitudes

EAST LANSING, Mich., Sept. 15 (UPI) — Women are more likely to believe scientific consensus on global warming than men are, a U.S. study says.

The findings challenge common perceptions that men are more scientifically literate, said Michigan State University sociologist Aaron M. McCright.

The study is one of the first to focus on how the genders think about climate change, a university release said Tuesday.

The findings also reinforce past studies that suggest 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, McCright said.

“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?”

The gender divide likely is explained by “gender socialization,” a theory that boys learn that masculinity emphasizes detachment, control and mastery, while a feminine identity 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.”

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