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Gender bias could have a link to climate change, a new study has suggested, with men who perceive their masculinity as threatened by a certain choice more likely to respond to the perceived threat by making an environmentally bad choice.
Forbes author Caroline Centeno Milton reports that the study, co-authored by researcher Aaron Brough from Utah State University and fellows from another four academic institutions, looked the possible relationship between gender and sustainable decision-making.
The researchers conducted seven experiments involving more than 2,000 participants and found that the environmentally responsible behavior tended to be perceived as more feminine by both those who engaged in it and those who observed it.
Such “feminine” behavior was supposedly seen as a threat to the masculinity of a significant enough number of the male participants to lead the researchers into suggesting gender stereotypes and their effects spread to things like environmentally responsible or irresponsible behavior.
In one of the experiments, for example, the participants had to recall an experience in which they’d done something positive or negative for the environment. The ones that recalled a pro-environment experience rated themselves as more ‘feminine” than the ones that recalled an anti-environment experience.
What’s more, male participants seemed more concerned with the maintenance of their masculine identity, which could also explain the not-too-environmentally good choices they made in the experiments.
The results were apparently consistent across the experiments, leading the authors to conclude gender identity was a factor in behavior that could influence the sustainability of choices we make regardless, it seems, of what area we make this choices in.
The authors have called what they’ve observed the Green-Feminine Stereotype. In the abstract to their study, originally published in 2016, they note “evidence that the concepts of greenness and femininity are cognitively linked and shows that, accordingly, consumers who engage in green behaviors are stereotyped by others as more feminine and even perceive themselves as more feminine.”
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.