If environmental stewardship turned into some sort of epic battle of the sexes, men would get clobbered. It's not an idea that is innately intuitive to this male writer (who's doing all the cosmetics-buying, electric hair-drying and clothes shopping?) but it's a finding that shines through in study after study.
The latest example is in a new study in Social Science Research that looks at female empowerment in various nations. It's not keeping score which gender has a bigger carbon footprint, it's examining the environmental practices of nations and the level of status women have in the country. The study, by sociologists Christina Ergas and Richard York at the University of Oregon, found that “controlling for other factors, in nations where women’s status is higher, CO2 emissions are lower.” And it appears the researchers did their homework:
Even when controlling for a variety of measures of “modernization,” world-system position, and democracy, nations where women have higher political status — as indicated by the length of time women have had the right to vote and women’s representation in parliament and ministerial government — tend to have lower CO2 emissions per capita. This ﬁnding suggests that efforts to improve women’s political status around the world, clearly worthy on their own merits, may work synergistically with efforts to reduce CO2 emissions and avert dramatic global climate change.
The coauthors aren't exactly sure why the correlation of female empowerment and environmental progress exists but they suggest that "women make different decisions than do men when placed in positions of power." They also tick off a number of ways women are outpacing their male counterparts on environmental issues: “Nations with higher proportions of women in parliament ratify a greater number of environmental treaties ... Women in the United States demonstrate greater scientiﬁc knowledge of climate change ... tend to perceive environmental risks as more threatening ... are more active in environmental reform projects” etc.