ARE WOMEN LEADERS OF NATURE? - a quantitative study on the effect of women’s political representation on environmental politics in European countries.

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: Environmental politics is becoming an increasingly important field because of severe issues like climate change. Research has argued that women care more for the environment. Meanwhile, female politicians in national parliaments are reported to have stronger environmental concerns and be more supportive of environmental protection than their male colleagues, but it is still unsure if they exhibit these characteristics in their decision-making. The purpose of this study is to capture the effect of women’s political presence on environmental outputs which has not previously been tested much empirically from a cross- country perspective. A quantitative method with a statistical analysis is used on cross-sectional, time-series data from 34 European countries to test if an increase in the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments have a positive effect on climate change legislation, joining environmental agreements and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions. The result of the analysis finds little support to the suggested hypothesis of a positive effect, except for joining environmental agreements that showed significance. The correlating trend of gender equality in the parliaments and improving environmental politics might instead be due to modernization. However, it cannot be ruled out by this analysis that an increase of the number of women in national parliament does not have a positive effect on environmental politics. Further research is needed to determine how the environment is prioritized by female politicians in order to study the effect of their presence.

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