Win-Win or Lose-Lose? Problematizing Women's Role in Household-Level Environmentalism

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:15
Oral Presentation
Emily HUDDART KENNEDY, Washington State University, USA
Julie KMEC, Washington State University, USA
Environmental social scientists require better explanations of the relationship between environmental protection and women’s economic status relative to men’s. A growing body of literature finds evidence that gender equality augments national-level environmental sustainability. Required now is an understanding of whether environmental protection efforts at the household level (pro-environmental behaviors or PEB) are related to gender differences in economic status. We contribute to this effort in two ways: (1) we develop a theoretical approach to understanding the relationship between PEB and gender differences in economic status; and (2) we empirically demonstrate gender differences in the relationship between PEB and economic status. Analyses using 2010 International Social Survey Program data from 32 nations find that women report higher frequency of engagement in PEB than men, regardless of economic status – and even when a woman has a higher economic status level than her male partner. We interpret these descriptive observations using the theoretical framework developed in the article’s first section. The article concludes with recommendations for methodological and theoretical approaches that move beyond considering gender as a control variable toward identifying possible mechanisms driving the relationship between environmental protection and women’s status relative to men’s taking into account the possibility that engaging in PEB may exacerbate gender inequality.