Women and Nuclear Energy: Examining the Gender Divide in Opposition to Nuclear Power Among Swedish Citizens and Politicians


Sundström, Aksel, and Aaron M. McCright. 2016. “Women and Nuclear Energy: Examining the Gender Divide in Opposition to Nuclear Power Among Swedish Citizens and Politicians.” Energy Research & Social Science 11 (January): 29–39.

Authors: Aksel Sundström, Aaron M. McCright


Whether or not there will be a ‘renaissance’ of nuclear power in the near future may depend upon the nature of support for this energy source among citizens and elected officials. Continued examination of the predictors of opposition to nuclear power therefore remains quite policy relevant. While the existing literature finds modest but consistent gender differences in attitudes towards nuclear power in the general publics of several Western countries, the robustness of this relationship has seldom been investigated across time or among elected officials. This paper addresses both of these gaps. First, analyzing nationally representative data from the Swedish general public between 1986 and 2011, we confirm that the theoretically expected gender divide in opposition to nuclear power-whereby women report greater opposition than do men-is indeed robust over time. Second, examining data from three recent surveys of elected officials at the local, regional, and national levels in Sweden, we find that female elected officials at each polity level report greater opposition to nuclear power than their male counterparts. Our results are consistent with the health and safety concerns argument, whereby women are less supportive than are men of technologies with considerable perceived health and safety risks.

Keywords: nuclear power, gender, public opinion, politicians

Topics: Gender, Women, Gender Analysis, Health, Infrastructure, Energy Regions: Europe, Nordic states, Northern Europe Countries: Sweden

Year: 2016

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