Mendoza School of Business

Studies show people think caring about the environment is “feminine”

Published: September 2, 2016 / Author: Quartz

As Quartz’s fashion reporter, I write a lot about sustainability. Between pesticides required to grow raw materials for clothes and toxic chemicals used to dye and finish them, fashion is a major polluter—and that includes men’s clothing as much as women’s.

Yet a few weeks back, when someone asked me if I knew of many men’s brands focused specifically on sustainable clothes, I could hardly think of any. In my experience, women and brands targeting them tend to be much more interested in protecting the environment. It’s far less common in menswear.

As it turns out, there’s a reason for that, according to new research published in the Journal of Consumer Research. In a series of seven studies, researchers found evidence that people perceive consumers who behave in eco-friendly ways as “more feminine,” and that those consumers “perceive themselves as more feminine.” What’s more, men may avoid green behaviors in order to protect their masculinity.

Prior research indicates that women do tend to be more environmentally responsible, say the paper’s lead authors, Aaron Brough, assistant professor of marketing at Utah State University, and James Wilkie, assistant professor at University of Notre Dame. Typically the gender gap is attributed to inherent personality differences, such as women being more altruistic and empathetic.

Read the entire story on the Quartz website.