Population and Environment

, Volume 32, Issue 1, pp 66–87

The effects of gender on climate change knowledge and concern in the American public

Original Paper

Abstract

This study tests theoretical arguments about gender differences in scientific knowledge and environmental concern using 8 years of Gallup data on climate change knowledge and concern in the US general public. Contrary to expectations from scientific literacy research, women convey greater assessed scientific knowledge of climate change than do men. Consistent with much existing sociology of science research, women underestimate their climate change knowledge more than do men. Also, women express slightly greater concern about climate change than do men, and this gender divide is not accounted for by differences in key values and beliefs or in the social roles that men and women differentially perform in society. Modest yet enduring gender differences on climate change knowledge and concern within the US general public suggest several avenues for future research, which are explored in the conclusion.

Keywords

Gender Climate change Knowledge Concern 

References

  1. Aiken, L., West, S., & Reno, R. (1991). Multiple regression. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  2. American Association of University Women (AAUW). (1992). How schools shortchange girls. Washington, D.C.: AAUW.Google Scholar
  3. Arcury, T. A., Scollay, S., & Johnson, T. P. (1987). Sex differences in environmental concern and knowledge. Sex Roles, 16, 463–472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Batson, C. D., Schoenrade, P., & Ventis W. L. (1993). Religion and the individual. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bem, S. L. (1993). The lenses of gender. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  6. Blocker, T. J., & Eckberg, D. L. (1989). Environmental issues as women’s issues. Social Science Quarterly, 70, 586–593.Google Scholar
  7. Blocker, T. J., & Eckberg, D. L. (1997). Gender and environmentalism. Social Science Quarterly, 78, 841–858.Google Scholar
  8. Bord, R. J., & O’Connor, R. E. (1997). The gender gap in environmental attitudes. Social Science Quarterly, 78, 830–840.Google Scholar
  9. Brody, S. D., Zahran, S., Vedlitz, A., & Grover, H. (2008). Examining the relationship between physical vulnerability and public perceptions of global climate change in the United States. Environment and Behavior, 41, 72–95.Google Scholar
  10. Catsambis, S. (1995). Gender, race, ethnicity, and science education in the middle grades. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 32, 243–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chatterjee, S., Hadi, A. S., & Price, B. (2000). Regression analysis by example (3rd ed.). New York: Wiley Interscience.Google Scholar
  12. Chodorow, N. J. (1978). The reproduction of mothering. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  13. Committee on Science, Engineering, Public Policy (COSEPUP). (2007). Beyond bias and barriers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  14. Davidson, D. J., & Freudenburg, W. R. (1996). Gender and environmental risk concerns. Environment and Behavior, 28, 302–339.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Dietz, T., Kalof, L., & Stern, P. C. (2002). Gender, values, and environmentalism. Social Science Quarterly, 83, 353–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Dunlap, R. E., & McCright, A. M. (2008). A widening gap. Environment, 50(5), 26–35.Google Scholar
  17. Eckberg, D. L., & Blocker, T. J. (1989). Varieties of religious involvement and environmental concerns. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 28, 509–517.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Eckberg, D. L., & Blocker, T. J. (1996). Christianity, environmentalism, and the theoretical problem of fundamentalism. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion, 35, 343–355.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Etkowitz, H., Kemelgor, C., & Uzzi, B. (2000). Athena unbound. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Flynn, J., Burns, W., Mertz, C. K., & Slovic, P. (1992). Trust as a determinant of opposition to a high-level radioactive waste repository. Risk Analysis, 12, 417–429.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fox, M. F., & Firebaugh, G. (1992). Confidence in science. Social Science Quarterly, 73, 101–113.Google Scholar
  22. Freudenburg, W. R. (1993). Risk and recreancy. Social Forces, 71, 909–932.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Freudenburg, W. R., & Davidson, D. J. (2007). Nuclear families and nuclear risks. Rural Sociology, 72(2), 215–243.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. George, D. L., & Southwell, P. L. (1986). Opinion on the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. Social Science Quarterly, 67, 722–735.Google Scholar
  25. Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  26. Greenbaum, A. (1995). Taking stock of two decades of research on the social bases of environmental concern. In D. M. Michael & O. Eric (Eds.), Environmental sociology (pp. 125–152). North York, Ontario, Canada: Captus Press.Google Scholar
  27. Hamilton, L. C. (1985a). Who cares about water pollution?”. Sociological Inquiry, 55, 170–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hamilton, L. C. (1985b). Concerns about toxic wastes. Sociological Perspectives, 28, 463–486.Google Scholar
  29. Hamilton, L. C. (2008). Who cares about polar regions? Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research, 40, 671–678.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hayes, B. C. (2001). Gender, scientific knowledge, and attitudes toward the environment. Political Research Quarterly, 54, 657–671.Google Scholar
  31. Hunter, L. M., Hatch, A., & Johnson, A. (2004). Cross-national gender variation in environmental behaviors. Social Science Quarterly, 85, 677–694.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2001). IPCC third assessment report. Geneva: IPCC.Google Scholar
  33. Jacobs, J. E., & Simpkins, S. D. (2006). Leaks in the pipeline to math, science, and technology careers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
  34. Jones, J. M. (2008). Polluted drinking water was No. 1 concern before AP report: Global warming way down the list. Princeton, NJ: Gallup Organization. Retrieved May 15, 2009 (http://www.gallup.com/poll/104932/Polluted-Drinking-Water-No-Concern-Before-Report.aspx).
  35. Jones, M. G., Howe, A., & Rua, M. J. (2000). Gender differences in students’ experiences, interests, and attitudes toward science and scientists. Science Education, 84(2), 180–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kanagy, C. L., & Willits, F. K. (1993). A ‘greening’ of religion? Social Science Quarterly 74:674–683.Google Scholar
  37. Keller, E. F. (1985). Reflections on gender and science. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Kellstedt, P. M., Zahran, S., & Vedlitz, A. (2008). Personal efficacy, the information environment, and attitudes toward global warming and climate change in the USA. Risk Analysis, 28, 113–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Klineberg, S. L., McKeever, M., & Rothenbach, B. (1998). Demographic predictors of environmental concern. Social Science Quarterly, 79, 34–753.Google Scholar
  40. Krosnick, J. A., Visser, P. S., & Holbrook, A. L. (1998). American opinion on global warming. Resources, 133, 5–9.Google Scholar
  41. Lahsen, M. (2005). Technocracy, democracy, and U. S. climate politics. Science, Technology & Human Values, 30, 137–169.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Leiserowitz, A. (2005). American risk perception. Risk Analysis, 25, 1433–1442.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Leiserowitz, A. (2006). Climate change risk perception and policy preferences. Climatic Change, 77, 45–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Malka, A., Krosnick, J. A., & Langer, G. (2009). The association of knowledge with concern about global warming. Risk Analysis, 29, 633–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Marshall, B. K. (2004). Gender, race, and perceived environmental risk. Sociological Spectrum, 24, 453–478.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2000). Challenging global warming as a social problem. Social Problems, 47, 499–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. McCright, A. M., & Dunlap, R. E. (2003). Defeating Kyoto: the conservative movement’s impact on U.S. climate change policy. Social Problems, 50(3), 348–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. McStay, J. R., & Dunlap, R. E. (1983). Male-female differences in concern for the environmental quality. International Journal of Women’s Studies, 6(4), 291–301.Google Scholar
  49. Merchant, C. (1980). The death of nature. San Francisco: Harper Collins.Google Scholar
  50. Miller, J. D. (2007). The impact of college science courses for non-science majors on adult scientific literacy. Paper presented at the “The Critical role of college science courses for non-majors” Symposium at the Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. February 18. San Francisco.Google Scholar
  51. Miller, P. H., Blessing, J., & Schwartz, S. (2006). Gender differences in high-school students’ views about science. International Journal of Science Education, 28, 363–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Mohai, P. (1992). Men, women, and the environment. Society and Natural Resources, 5, 1–19.Google Scholar
  53. Mohai, P. (1997). Gender differences in the perceptions of most important environmental problems. Race, Gender & Class, 5, 153–169.Google Scholar
  54. National Research Council. (2001). Climate change science. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  55. National Research Council. (2008). Understanding and responding to climate change. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.Google Scholar
  56. O’Connor, R. E., Bord, R. J., & Fisher, A. (1999). Risk perceptions, general environmental beliefs, and willingness to address climate change. Risk Analysis, 19(3), 461–471.Google Scholar
  57. Olsen, M. E., Lodwick, D. G., & Dunlap, R. E. (1992). Viewing the world ecologically. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  58. Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M. (1997). Talking about leaving. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
  59. Slovic, P. (Ed.). (2001). The perception of risk. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  60. Smith, D. C. (2001). Environmentalism, feminism, and gender. Sociological Inquiry, 71, 314–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Somma, M., & Tolleson-Rinehart, S. (1997). Tracking the elusive green women. Political Research Quarterly, 50, 153–169.Google Scholar
  62. Stern, P. C., Dietz, T., & Kalof, L. (1993). Value orientations, gender, and environmental concern. Environment and Behavior, 25, 322–348.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Van Liere, K. D., & Dunlap, R. E. (1980). The social bases of environmental concern. Public Opinion Quarterly, 44, 181–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. VanLeuvan, P. (2004). Young women’s science/mathematics career goals from seventh grade to high school graduation. Journal of Educational Research, 97, 248–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Winship, C., & Radbill, L. (1994). Sampling weights and regression analysis. Sociological Methods and Research, 23, 230–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Wood, B. D., & Vedlitz, A. (2007). Issue definition, information processing, and the politics of global warming. American Journal of Political Science, 51, 552–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Zelezny, L. C., Chua, P.-P., & Aldrich, C. (2000). Elaborating on gender differences in environmentalism. Journal of Social Issues, 56, 443–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lyman Briggs College, Department of Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy ProgramMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

Personalised recommendations