DIGSSCORE Seminar: Understanding the Green Gender Gap: The Role of Gender Identity

Ingvild Zinober
Ingvild Zinober

Main content

Ingvild Zinober, PhD candidate at European University Institute, will present for us today. The presentation is titled "Understanding the Green Gender Gap: The Role of Gender Identity".

The event is in a hybrid format, you are welcome to join us for lunch from the Corner room at DIGSSCORE. Food is provided on a first-come first-served basis. Zoom link for digital attendance.



Research on climate and environmental attitudes has consistently shown a significant disparity between men and women. Compared to women, men tend to exhibit less environmental concern and engagment in eco-friendly behaviours. Men are also less worried about climate change and are underrepresented among voters for The Green parties in Europe. In my previous work, I found that this “Green Gender Gap” remains consistent across most European countries. Additionally, conventional explanations rooted in educational, occupational, or ideological gender differences fail to explain the gap. In a focused investigation within the Norwegian context, I observed a gap in climate change worry among teenagers as young as 13 years old. These findings suggest that early-life experiences, potentially involving the internalisation of gender norms, contribute significantly to the emergence of the Green Gender Gap.

Gender researchers have long argued that caring for nature is associated with femininity and that there is an incompatibility between traditional breadwinner masculinity and green ideology. Experimental studies also find a cognitive link between femininity and eco- and climate-friendly behaviour. Is green ideology unmanly?

To investigate this, we have designed three novel survey items measuring self-perception of femininity and masculinity and the importance respondents place on their gender identity. The survey items were included in the 26 rounds of the Norwegian Citizen Panel in Mache 2023 and were given to 1500 respondents.

This study unveils a nuanced interplay between gender, gender identity, and environmental ideology. Among individuals identifying as women, no substantial correlation exists between gender identity and views on climate and environmental issues. However, for those identifying as men, scoring high on femininity is positively correlated with heightened concern about climate change, prioritising environmental protection over industrial development, and advocating restrictions on future oil production. On the other hand, higher masculinity is negatively correlated with these survey items.

The finding in this study suggests that gender identity could be one of the explanations as to why men hold less green views compared to women. However, the study also revealed no relationship between gender identity and the attitudes of women. This contradicts the commonly held notion that women are more concerned with climate and environmental issues because of the internalised feminine value of empathy. In addition to broadening our understanding of the drivers behind the Green Gender Gap. The paper is also contributing to a growing literature on how gender and gender identity can be measured in surveys and studied quantitatively.