Women accept scientific conclusions on the issue of global warming and climate change more readily than men, reports a recent study.
The study challenges common perceptions that men are more scientifically literate, said Aaron M. McCright, an associate professor with appointments in MSU's Department of Sociology, Lyman Briggs College and Environmental Science and Policy Program.
"Men still claim they have a better understanding of global warming than women, even though women's beliefs align much more closely with the scientific consensus," said McCright.
The study is one of the first to focus in-depth on how the genders think about climate change. The findings also reinforce past research that suggests women lack confidence in their science comprehension.
"Here is yet another study finding that women underestimate their scientific knowledge - a troubling pattern that inhibits many young women from pursuing scientific careers," he said.
The sociologist said understanding how the genders think about the environment is important on several fronts and called climate change "the most expansive environmental problem facing humanity."
McCright analyzed eight years of data from Gallup's annual environment poll that asked fairly basic questions about climate change knowledge and concern.
He said the gender divide on concern about climate change was not explained by the roles that men and women perform such as whether they were homemakers, parents or employed full time.
Instead, he said the gender divide likely is explained by "gender socialization."
"Women and men think about climate change differently.
"And when scientists or policymakers are communicating about climate change with the general public, they should consider this rather than treating the public as one big monolithic audience," he said.
The findings were published in the September issue of the journal Population and Environment.