Climate change policy is already a sticky issue, and now there's an intriguing new twist. A recent study finds that more women than men believe the phenomenon is real. The author of the study says this could impact the way we handle climate change legislation. What's responsible for this gender gap? Here's a guide to the findings:
What exactly does this study say?
Women are more likely than men to believe that climate change is real, and that humans are causing it. But, after digging through eight years of data from Gallup's annual environment poll, Michigan State sociologist Aaron McCright also found that men claim to have a better understanding of climate change than women. This, says McCright at Treehugger, suggests that women are less confident in their understanding of science, which is "a troubling pattern that inhibits many young women from pursuing scientific careers."
Are women just more gullible than men?
Not necessarily, but they might be more sensitive than men, McCright says, and this could be a main cause for the gender gap. Men are taught to associate masculinity with detachment and control, so their skepticism is an expression of their manliness. Women on the other hand are taught to be attached, empathetic, and caring, which makes it much easier for them to become invested in the environment.
What does this mean for climate legislation?
First of all, scientists need to stop treating the public as "one big monolithic audience," McCright says at TopNews.us. McCright also seems to want women to take on more leadership roles in the scientific community, says Max Fisher at TheAtlanticWire. But he's overlooking the fact that women hold only 16 percent of the seats in Congress. So if scientists want a faster U.S. climate change response, they should want more women on Capitol Hill, not just in the lab.