So I recently did a podcast with @honestlyconscious (go give her follow on Instagram and come back). I was asked about the male/female balance in sustainability as my own Instagram followers are 84% female, a trait shared by most people in this sector and the question was, why is that?
I remember being at school and being told biology (which I did) was “a girl’s subject”, fortunately I ignore a lot of advice and carried on. Is that a reason? Are men put off more by the perception that sustainability is feminine? My biology class was mainly female, my job in conservation was mainly female and currently my colleagues in sustainability are almost entirely female.
In the university and college sector that I work in it is close, probably more male though. These people do not have “sustainability” roles though. They are things like “energy” “estates” etc. Does the word sustainable in the title put people off? Like how men don’t like to apply for jobs entitled “secretary”? There is an age thing here too with those studying engineering etc in the 80’s/90’s getting these jobs, mainly men.
A colleague of mine works with Asian female immigrants and points out they wouldn’t go for sustainability jobs despite already doing all the actions. They don’t relate to the word.
Neither do many, I was 18 before I heard the phrase “Sustainable Development” and found out about the “Sustainable Development Goals”. Whilst these can be useful terms (can be awful too) they have caused confusion. I remember a sustainable development course at uni that featured basket weaving at some point. That was definitely the target of ridicule and I’m sure it put some people off, likely more men.
It’s typically an arts subject too. Woman usually outnumber men in the arts so does that help explain it? It’s only sprung up recently as a field and maybe it needs time? Or, like the immigrant example, some men don’t relate to the word and focus on specifics like energy or travel instead a more holistic approach?
What are your thoughts? Are men less interested in sustainability? Is the word confusing? Do men care less about the world?
Let me know!