A Yale University study found that more American women than men think: that global warming is happening, that it is being accelerated by human activity, and that it will affect them and their country. However, they were also statistically less informed about the scientific facts of climate change. Therefore, I think the primary approach to closing the climate change gender gap, should be investing in education. Women are more passionate about this issue, and yet due to lack of education around the world, and lack of representation in the STEM community, they are not able to act on their beliefs. Many feel like they cannot access scientific and political careers and subsequently, as we can see in our political leaders, there are fewer women in positions of power in the world.
“it is seen as ‘women’s work’”
I believe that investing more in women’s education is the most significant change that needs to happen, but part of the problem with attitudes toward protecting the climate is that it is seen as ‘women’s work’. As much as we may hate it, outdated social constructs like gender roles still affect us today. I don’t think saving the world as we know it is purely feminine, but some scientists believe this is why men have lower environmental engagement and higher rates of climate change denial. Sociology and environmental science professor, Thomas Dietz, suggested to Geographical magazine that ‘feminine qualities’ such as empathy, altruism and social skills, make women more likely to be concerned about the consequences of climate change and more involved in stopping it.
“men have lower environmental engagement and higher rates of climate change denial”
However, we need to be teaching that the climate is everyone’s responsibility. Amazing female green advocates, like Greta Thunberg and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have shone a light on the problem, but it is up to all of us to take action.
– ‘Women’s work’ by Lauren Kelly, Magazine of the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), November 2020
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Tabitha, 15, Leicester
Our earth is currently on track to lose 428 billion tons of our ice sheets each year. Wildlife will suffer, sea levels will rise, costal erosion will increase, and hurricanes will become a much more common sight. We are in danger, but we still have a chance. Humans have a trump card that we are holding back, a card that could save the earth as we know it. Yet still, we are inhibiting women from reaching their full potential.
“Yet still, we are inhibiting women from reaching their full potential”
From children, women are taught to go home rather than go big. While boys are experimenting with building blocks and figuring out remote control cars, girls are given a pretty pink plushie to look cute beside. Is it any wonder then, with it being discouraged throughout their lives, that women only make up 13% of the overall UK STEM workforce? When we need them the most, why are we preventing women from becoming scientists and mathematicians, perhaps the ones that will make a pivotal breakthrough and save mankind.
Women are not only disadvantaged in STEM fields, but the workforce as a whole. However, if women were to play an equal role in the labour markets, as men, the global annual GDP is estimated to increase by 26% by 2025. This is more than enough to cover the cost of the fight against climate change. Our own survival requires that we leave our unfair, outdated, and bigoted expectations of women to the past. This time of prevalent danger calls for us to exhaust all possibilities, our priority being equality.
“Our own survival requires that we leave our unfair, outdated, and bigoted expectations of women to the past”
Picture the women across the globe whose ambitions have been crushed by their lack of access to birth control, their dreams of chemical experiments and absorbing research replaced by a harsh reality. Out of the lack of accessible birth control, we lose all of these driven workers to a future of housework. Why do we continue to force women out of their work and into their homes, when the solution is so simple?
We must all come together and make the long overdue demand for equal opportunities for women. It’s time we respect them as the resilient, determined and adamant workers they have proven themselves to be and provide equal access to education and training. We must act before it is too late, and our efforts are done in vain. This time, the future of the earth depends on it.
Ellie, 16, Leicester
Note: I just wanted to say that I understand that not all people who give birth or can give birth are women, as their birth assigned sex is not who they identify as and when writing this I’m trying to be inclusive in all regards to gender and reproductive rights (LGBTQIA+)
Climate Crisis: a situation characterized by the threat of highly dangerous, irreversible changes to the global climate (1) – it’s been growing since the early 1800’s (2) consequently providing heart breaking destruction to endlessly beautiful habitats and catalysing the near extinction of animals who provide no real threat. It is an issue that has harmed so many and exposed where, for certain individuals in power, priorities lie … however, for the majority of the world’s population it has united us to change the reality of our situations; ranging from protests and new eco-friendly products carted across the globe to petitions to leaders of countries and laws/agreements being made; whatever it may be, people are wanting to make a difference. The realisation that more needs to be done before it’s too late and our time runs out is a reality which is hanging over us all; constantly reminding us to do our part. However, there’s a point that we as humanity come to – a crossroad one may say – where propositions to stop the effects of climate change get offset by our core beliefs and treatment of self and others – where do we draw the line and more importantly what is the line?
Throughout the years, the development of ideas to provide more females with an education, in order to help solve the climate crisis, has been circulating and stirring up controversy from all corners. It explains how the basic right to an education, can additionally help reduce carbon emissions through reducing family sizes; research shows that those in higher education have less children and having one less child (in developed countries) would reduce the families CO2 equivalent emissions of 58.6 tonnes (3). This information, once paired with the harsh reality of the destruction climate change provides and our readily lessening time to stop the ongoing harm, presents a hesitantly optimistic option.
“if the declining CO2 emissions are a by-product of this, it becomes an advantage”
I say hesitantly optimistic because while in theory the statistics show the benefits of this idea, some may say that gender equality and birth rights for those who can become pregnant seem to hang in the balance when such an idea is boiled down to the core principles – ethical issues that surround the idea of influencing reduction in procreation, and viewing people who can give birth, as people who are mere pawns in this plan; ultimately encouraging the view that those who are successful in their career are not going to want children and while the statistics do show that there is a factual basis to the correlation, the specific “interpretation [of the data] is unclear”(4). Additionally, the theory could unintentionally appear to loosely suggest the idea that educating females and people in general is mainly a source of interest when it provides the reverberation of reduction in CO2 production. Despite not being anybody’s true agenda or outlook, some people may not think it’s the positive idea, one may have originally thought. Due to the proposition potentially affecting the population (be it intentional or not), seeing education for all of the world’s youth is a basic human right of empowerment.
“having one less child … would reduce the families CO2 equivalent emissions of 58.6 tonnes”
However, saying that, when looking at the idea through another perspective one can see the benefits of such a statement – the painful truth is that children are kept out of the schooling system for a multitude of reasons. If they are put in education, full stop, it would be a massive improvement in every direction and if the declining CO2 emissions are a by-product of this, it becomes an advantage to the already successful, vital, inclusion of young people across the globe in to the education system devoid of any ulterior motives.
Not only that but as the generations move on, there is growing concern about having children due to how it would impact both the children’s lives and the earth’s health… especially when focusing on how the incredibly dangerous domino effects of ruined sanctuaries could increase the risk of human smuggling and trafficking alongside the destruction of nature and wellbeing. This is a worry which US politician Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (who is working hard to help solve the climate crisis and ultimately avoid the situation of people being influenced by climate change, when making the decision to have children) picked up on and addressed the situation, saying that “It is basically a scientific consensus that the lives of our children are going to be very difficult” continuing to address many of the younger generations concerns by asking the question, if it is still “legitimate” (5) to have children. Moving away from the education system, a poll (6) highlighted that around 30% of Americans agree on some level with considering climate change when deciding if they should have children. So while the majority of people believe climate change should not pay a part in the decision, a significant number of people do; highlighting the reality of this situation.
“Ultimately, investing in females can only be positive”
The climate crisis is an incredibly time sensitive issue – one of the most important in the world and as you can see from what I’ve written there are significant points which sit on both sides. I personally believe that the idea of not having any children full stop is a sad conclusion and so I desperately believe, I have to believe, that there is a middle ground; some form of alternate solution which honours both human rights and the future of the planet. We need to find a solution which is both realistic and human. Ultimately, investing in females can only be positive, whether that be through the controversial aspect of admissions reducing CO2 emissions or encouraging generations to speak their minds much like the empowering examples of AOC and Greta Thunberg.
(1) Oxford Languages and Google – English
(2) Carbonbrief.org – Roz Pidock 24.08.2016 – scientists clarify starting point for human caused climate change. https://www.carbonbrief.org/scientists-clarify-starting-point-for-human-caused-climate-change#:~:text=Scientists%20generally%20regard%20the%20later,date%20forward%20to%20the%201830s
(3) Study from IOP science – Seth Wines and Kimberly A Nicholas 2017 https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/aa7541/meta
(4) World Of Labour article on “female education and its impact on fertility” https://wol.iza.org/uploads/articles/228/pdfs/female-education-and-its-impact-on-fertility.pdf
(5) The Guardian article “is Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez right to ask if the climate means we should have fewer children?” by Mathew Taylor on Wednesday 27th February 2019 – www.theguardian.com/environment/shortcuts/2019/feb/27/is-alexandria-ocasio-cortez-right-to-ask-if-the-climate-means-we-should-have-fewer-children
(6) Business insider https://www.businessinsider.com/millennials-americans-worry-about-kids-children-climate-change-poll-2019-3?r=US&IR=T
Isabella, 16, London
For so long, women have watched as the world has been victim to power greedy men, from the average man littering in the street to world leaders neglecting climate change. Now, this does not include every man, nor does this exclude many women. But, as we gain our voices, we can add fresh views and changes to the world that are being suppressed through lack of help.
“We have seen many women that have rose to help this planet”
Brilliant thinkers can come from all walks of life and can develop into strong women with motivation both internally and externally. We have seen many women that have rose to help this planet like Greta Thunberg, who has made her voice heard and is raising awareness to take action against climate change. Many women could follow in her footsteps and strive for greatness.
In addition, Michelle Obama, a former FLOTUS, is inspiring thousands of young women around the world. Her investment into changing young girls’ futures in all types of community could help change our planet.
“hanging young girls’ futures in all types of community could help change our planet”
Lastly, schools and communities should start to invest in the future of women in the environment through programmes and opportunities. My school has given me an amazing opportunity to innovate the future of the environment which is allowing me to look at the earth in a different way. Many schools no matter the expense should encourage girls to take part in keeping our environment alive whether it is inspiration or innovation.
Emilia, 14, Leicester