When more women make decisions, the environment wins

women work
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

When more women are involved in group decisions about land management, the group conserves more—particularly when offered financial incentives to do so, according to a new University of Colorado Boulder study published this week in Nature Climate Change.

The study, involving 440 forest users from three developing countries, sheds new light on the role for local governing bodies could play in reducing global deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions while also curbing local inequalities.

"When policymakers think about what to do to increase conservation around the world, gender quotas don't even come up as a viable policy instrument," said senior author Krister Andersson, a political science professor and researcher at the Institute of Behavioral Science. "This study suggests they should."

Previous research has shown that women tend to have a greater affinity for the environment, support conservation measures more and are more concerned than men are about problems of inequality. But because women often are at a financial disadvantage or are underrepresented in decision-making bodies, they may not have the opportunity to put those preferences into action.

"We wanted to know what would happen if you offered for groups to conserve and made sure at least half the members were women," said Andersson.

The conservation game

Members of the research team traveled to 31 villages near collectively-managed forests in Indonesia, Peru and Tanzania. They staged a day-long tabletop simulation game in which local forest users were divided into groups of eight and asked to make decisions about how many trees they would harvest from a shared forest.

Half the groups had gender quotas requiring that 50 percent of members were women. Half had no quotas.

In the first stage of the game, all participants anonymously chose how many trees they would cut down, knowing that they would receive a small payment (5 tokens) for each tree. In the second stage, the participants were told that an external organization would pay them 160 tokens as a group if they didn't cut any trees down and the elected leader would decide how to distribute those tokens.

"We found that the groups with the gender quota reduced their harvesting rate far more when the incentive was introduced and also distributed the payments for conserving more equally," said lead author Nathan Cook, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Institute of Behavioral Science.

Notably, there was no difference between the groups when there was no financial incentive. But once cash was offered, the groups with a quota reduced their harvesting by 51 percent while the control group cut its harvesting by 39 percent.

"It appears that it is not the gender by itself that is making a difference, but rather the combination with the conservation incentive," said Andersson. "Maybe women have stronger environmental preferences but having a seat at the table and a payment for foregoing the immediate benefits of cutting down trees empowers them to act."

The rise of quotas

The study comes as Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) - in which individuals or groups are paid to not extract resources—are growing increasingly common. More than 550 such programs exist in Ecuador, Costa Rica, Brazil and elsewhere to conserve land, water and forests.

Much of the threatened forest is collectively owned and managed by small community groups. But women are often excluded from those groups.

Governments are increasingly experimenting with gender quotas, with legislatures or in India, Argentina and Rwanda earmarking 30 percent of seats for women. In Nepal, the government stipulates that at least half of local user committee members should be women.

Interestingly, in the new study, it didn't make much difference whether the chosen leader was a man or woman. If the majority of members were female, fewer trees were cut down.

"The big takeaway here is that when it comes to environmental conservation, the presence of matters," said Cook.


Explore further

How cash can promote tropical forest conservation

More information: Nathan J. Cook et al, Gender quotas increase the equality and effectiveness of climate policy interventions, Nature Climate Change (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41558-019-0438-4
Journal information: Nature Climate Change

Citation: When more women make decisions, the environment wins (2019, March 21) retrieved 23 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-women-decisions-environment.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
5592 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Mar 21, 2019
They don't take risks and as a result, will be less successful than men in the long-run.

Mar 22, 2019
The Average Woman Puts 515 Synthetic Chemicals On Her Body Every Day Without Knowing.

What's the Second Most Polluting Industry? (We'll Give You A Hint – You're Wearing It)

To produce one pair of jeans, it takes more than 1,800 gallons of water. It's no wonder then that the $3 trillion fashion industry is the second most polluting industry.

Say what you want, having more women in influential positions would do a lot of good for our global societies.

Mar 22, 2019
"Previous research has shown that women tend to have a greater affinity for the environment, support conservation measures more and are more concerned than men are about problems of inequality"

-So women are different than men? But I thought... aw never mind.

Here are a few man-like women

"LI Woman Embezzled $200,000 From Construction Company"

"Fayetteville Woman Embezzled More Than $400,000 From Springdale Church"

"Springdale Woman Embezzled Over $230,000 From Rogers Company"

"Manager allegedly embezzled money from Virginia cheerleading gym"

"She embezzled $225,000 — to pay back the other company she stole from"

"Woman embezzled $138K from little league"

-holy shit- I googled 'woman embezzled from police', looking for something else, and got dozens similar man-like crimes.

I had no idea. Perhaps their hormones were askewed by sharing the womb with a male twin. Something, I dunno.

Mar 22, 2019
This was the one I was looking for

"A greedy charity volunteer spent nearly half a million dollars donated by NYPD cops for the families of slain officers on herself - and the legal defense of her son, convicted of manslaughter in a Midtown hit-and-run..."

-Heres one roughly related to the topic

"The former executive director of the Sexual Assault Crisis Team (SACT) of Washington County was charged with embezzling about $20,000 from the organization between October 2016 and February 2019."

"A pair of California nuns allegedly embezzled $500000 from tuition and other school funds"
-heehee

"A Wisconsin woman is accused of embezzling more than $10000 from school lunch accounts"

-Etcetera.

And let us not forget this shyster

"Elizabeth Anne Holmes, founder and former CEO of Theranos"

-So no, I would not be more trusting of a woman who claimed to be environmentally sympathetic.

Is every woman an "angle"? Certainly not, but they are on average further developed than we laggards. There is not enough space for listing all the male monsters in politics, warfare etc. etc. who perpetrated the worst crimes up till genocides. And Otto, who played and plays the key role in all the odd religions out there?

mqr
Mar 22, 2019
The key role in religions has been played by men. Indeed, a question about sex differences is why women are far less spiritual than men. Women are far less likely to divine devotion, they are devoted to privilige, power and wealth. They like to go to the church, but they do not seek God.

Women are equally violent than men, the chances of a woman killing her children are exactly equal to men. Women seem on the surface less violent because they are physically weaker and they can not attack men directly. In the USA, domestic violence is initiated by women in most cases.

Men who claim that women are inherently better have daddy issues, probably abandoned by their fathers or attacked by them during childhood. So they turn in the fantasy than women are better.

Mar 22, 2019
POS sexist article.

Mar 22, 2019
They don't take risks and as a result, will be less successful than men in the long-run.

By what measure?
Money? No.
Survival of the human species? Yes.

Since money is no use when the species doesn't survive I say women win that one.
In the long run.
Easily.

Mar 22, 2019
All this study confirms, is that women are more easily bought.

Mar 22, 2019
The Average Woman Puts 515 Synthetic Chemicals On Her Body Every Day Without Knowing.

What's the Second Most Polluting Industry? (We'll Give You A Hint – You're Wearing It)

To produce one pair of jeans, it takes more than 1,800 gallons of water. It's no wonder then that the $3 trillion fashion industry is the second most polluting industry.

Holy crap this is an excellent point.

Mar 22, 2019
On average (stress "on average"; ie, excluding data re 'outlier' Male/female sexual/hormonal variability which makes some men/women biophysically/psychologically 'transgender'), the HUMAN FEMALE ROLE/EXPERIENCE involves the most consequential repercussions of MATING (ie, 9-month pregnancy suffering all sorts of physiological/health conditions and possibly experiencing complications/miscarriage; and THEN bearing/breastfeeding/nurturing helpless infant; and THEN create 'nest environment' for child to feel loved/secure etc for years), means that AVERAGE FEMALE is (genetically/socially/by necessity) pre/post 'conditioned' to make MORE CARING DECISIONS for future generations than AVERAGE MALE who is evolutionarily designed (and in many societies socially 'conditioned') for roaming/warfare etc activities which are not easy/possible if required to 'stay at home' taking 'everyday' (and what seem to males 'boring', but to females 'important') decisions/actions for generational care.

Mar 22, 2019
As for the COSMETICS/FASHION etc angles canvassed by posters above, the point that should not be lost sight of is that females ***and*** males engage in all that beauty/grooming etc stuff to increase their chances of attracting their desired sexual partner, and so this aspect is a common factor, NOT just 'a female thing'. So blame for any damage to environment by such should be equally apportioned to both genders, and NOT just heaped onto the average females of our species.

Moreover, we can blame the 'average males' for their DERISION/TROLLING of those females who DO NOT USE COSMETICS and just go natural....usually labeled kooky, ugly etc etc.

Anyhow, everyone should avoid/beware simplistic conclusions; the male-female experience/mind differences are more deep-rooted and complex (both biologically and psychologically and socially and culturally etc) than first meet the simplistic observer/commentator.

Good luck to us all.

Mar 22, 2019
The 50 Most Infamous Female Teacher Sex Scandals

http://www.zimbio...Scandals

Mar 23, 2019
who played and plays the key role in all the odd religions
A simple matter of group selection. Tribalism. Tribes that could outgrow and overwhelm the competition are the ones that survived. This involves forcing women to reproduce until it kills them.

Women will naturally resist bearing more children as they age because it becomes increasingly dangerous for them and because they need to ensure that their existing children have enough resources to grow to maturity.

Protohumans used technology to hunt the predators that were keeping their numbers in check. That was only the first attritive element they eliminated. The result was chronic enduring overpopulation. Humanity congealed into tribes to secure and protect resources.

With overpop, violence is not an option. Sooner or later a tribe must fight. Religions were used as a way of establishing tribal dominance, of creating greater internal cohesion along with greater aggression toward outsiders.

They still are.

Mar 23, 2019
Since money is no use when the species doesn't survive I say women win that one.
Easily
Women are just as invested in tribal dominance as men. They are more concerned with the survival of their offspring than men as they have more invested in each child they bear.

Women naturally want the best mate for each and every child they wish to bear. That is their perfect world. And in order to discern relative quality in potential mates she will compel them to compete for her affections.

This tendency is obviously anathema to tribal harmony, and marriage was invented to suppress it. But it continues to operate at the group level. Women of the tribe will compel warriors to fight other tribes. How else are they going to know if their children are being protected?

Here, sing with me...

"2. Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang."


"2. Deutsche Frauen, deutsche Treue,
Deutscher Wein und deutscher Sang
Sollen in der Welt behalten
Ihren alten schönen Klang,
Uns zu edler Tat begeistern
Unser ganzes Leben lang."


I would argue that this part of the national anthem confirms the very point of the research. It states that German WOMEN shall retain their positive image in the world (please don't bring up nowadays Merkel) and should excite us all to perform noble, virtue-based deeds. Reader will agree that conduct of war is no noble and virtue-based deed that university professor and poet Hoffmann von Fallersleben (who avoided otherwise mandatory military service) could have had in mind when in 1841 writing the text.

Mar 23, 2019
to perform noble, virtue-based deeds. Reader will agree that conduct of war is no noble and virtue-based deed that university professor and poet Hoffmann von Fallersleben
But dont you think that maybe the far simpler and more obvious explanation was to remind soldaten what they were fighting for as they sung it while marching to the front?

Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,
Über alles in der Welt!

-What do you suppose that refers to? Passive egalitarianism or tribal dominance?

"The song became very popular after the 1914 Battle of Langemarck during World War I, when, supposedly, several German regiments, consisting mostly of students no older than 20, attacked the British lines on the Western front singing the song, suffering heavy casualties."

-The world was again being prepared for war. The empires were formed to make it the biggest bang yet. The german philos set the stage for the german perception of nationalist superiority.

Mar 23, 2019
"critic was Friedrich Nietzsche, who called the grandiose claim in the first stanza ("Deutschland über alles") "die blödsinnigste Parole der Welt" (the most idiotic slogan in the world), and in Thus Spoke Zarathustra said, "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles – I fear that was the end of German philosophy."

-So apparently he appreciated the nationalist message even if apologists insist that 'alles' is not 'allen'.

Nietszche was a propagandist as implicit as any of them. His philosophy was of course unfathomable. But his catchphrases 'man and superman', 'will to power', 'god is dead', were instrumental in establishing the perception that Germany was beset by untermenschen from within and without, and that only it could fix the world, by force.

Germans were of course not alone in these tribal manipulations
https://digital.l...tadc433/

-In every country the spiel was the same. Time-tested, effective, simple, irresistable... biological.

Mar 23, 2019
Errata: for 'implicit' read 'complicit'


Deutschland, Deutschland ��ber alles,
Über alles in der Welt!

-What do you suppose that refers to? Passive egalitarianism or tribal dominance?


Come on, Otto, you are the king of citations. Check the English Wikipedia entry for the author and you find the answer...

https://en.wikipe...ersleben

Mar 23, 2019
So what? Springsteen wrote the decidedly nationalist 'Born in the USA' and then had to counter it with 'War - what is it good for?' to appease critics.

Irrespective of the authors alleged politics, the message of the song itself is undeniable.

"Germany, Germany above all,
Above all in the world,
When, for protection and defense,
It always stands brotherly together."

-Nationalism is merely tribalism at a different scale. The message of this song is undeniably tribal. It was written during a worldwide wave of renewed nationalism of unprecedented scales. Empires were being formed - Italy, Germany, Britain, japan, china, russia, USA. The African continent was being carved and butchered to secure the resources necessary to fuel these pending wars, out of which would emerge a global tripartite superpower dominance where it would be safe for insanely dangerous new technologies to emerge.

What makes you think that a country central to all of this would adopt a pacifist anthem?

Mar 23, 2019
Hmm... considering gender as a determination factor for selection of decision-makers seems kind of sexist.

Mar 23, 2019
@koitsu.
Hmm... considering gender as a determination factor for selection of decision-makers seems kind of sexist.
Superficially, I suppose you could argue that. However, in reality, it is the gender BALANCE that is the key. Increasing the proportion of female decision makers affords PERSPECTIVES which may otherwise be lacking within male-dominated decision making structures. Moreover, in many fields of human endeavour there is a case to be made for choosing male/female according to crucial skills and perspectives required. This especially ACKNOWLEDGED by ALL political parties when assembling 'FOCUS GROUPS' to advise about policies aimed at some specific DEMOGRAPHIC or other. In short, it's a case of "horses for courses" (look it up if you haven't already heard that saying); and in the 'course' of ENVIRONMENT, it appears that females are at least as good as if not better for decisions affecting future generations than males seem to be, in politics or industry. :)

Mar 25, 2019
Wow, a topic more annoying that climate change. I can't even.

Mar 25, 2019
They don't take risks and as a result, will be less successful than men in the long-run.
Thorium Boy

Even for environment risks? That doesn't make sense.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more