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This is a piece I wrote earlier this semester.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a place to publish it, and well, its shelf life waned.  I think this is a fascinating study, by the way.

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Women More Likely To Believe In Climate Change Than Men

By Marianne English

Political ideology and religion aren’t the only influences that affect public opinion on global warming. A recent Michigan State University study suggests gender should also be included in the demographic medley of factors that shapes personal beliefs on climate change.

The study — one of the first of its kind to explore gender and public opinion on this contentious issue — highlights the need to consider the general public as diverse individuals when relaying scientific information. Although the research reinforces the idea that social influences guide each gender’s involvement in science, climate change groups say they don’t give much thought to the male-female divide when creating strategic messages for the public.

“Gender differences are more subtle — men and women have different trusts in science,” said Aaron McCright, an associate professor of sociology at Michigan State University and author of the study. “We need to understand that average men and women hear the same message differently. You can’t assume that everyone is the same — the American public isn’t monolithic.”

Using Gallup Poll data from 2001 to 2008, McCright examined scientific beliefs and levels of concern surrounding global warming for both genders in the United States. Each year’s sample size ranged from 1,000 to 1,060 people.

From the data, McCright found that women are not only more likely than men to agree with scientists that climate change exists, but they also possess the scientific knowledge to back it up, too.

Men, on the other hand, express greater confidence in their knowledge of science, but didn’t agree with scientists as much as women did. During the time both groups were polled, men were less likely to agree that global warming was happening and less likely to agree that human activities were to blame.

McCright thinks a larger phenomenon is at play —  a concept called gender socialization. Read the rest of this entry »

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Marianne is a science communicator working in Madison, Wis.

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