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Science, technology and risk perception: from gender differences to the effects made by gender

Henwood, Karen Linda ORCID:, Parkhill, Karen ORCID: and Pidgeon, Nicholas Frank ORCID: 2008. Science, technology and risk perception: from gender differences to the effects made by gender. Equal Opportunities International 27 (8) , pp. 662-676. 10.1108/02610150810916730

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Purpose – A longstanding quantitative finding from surveys of public perceptions of hazardous technologies is that women and men respondents tend to express different levels of concern when asked about environmental and technological hazards. Traditional psychometric risk perception research has provided extensive empirical descriptions of this “gender effect”, but is criticised for having less success in developing substantive theory linking observations to socio-cultural explanations to explicate this effect. The purpose of this paper is to build a theoretical platform to account for the existing empirical findings on gender and perceptions of risk. Design/methodology/approach – The paper presents a critical synthesis, drawing upon theory in contemporary risk research, gender theory, social studies of science and feminist studies of epistemology. Findings – A theoretical platform is developed concerning the operation of gender as a regulatory process involving norms and discourse. The role is identified of moral discourses, hegemonic masculinities/gender authenticity, and epistemic subjectivities as plausible ways of understanding the gender–risk effect in risk perception. Research limitations/implications – A novel theoretical exploration is provided of the relationship between gender and risk perceptions. Conceptual development in the gender and risk arena could be further refined by applying the theoretical platform developed here to empirical analyses and, to investigate its relevance to understanding how people discuss, deliberate and reason about risk issues. Originality/value – Much of the existing literature fails to offer adequately grounded theoretical explanations for the observed empirical finding on gender and risk. This paper is the first to utilise a non-essentialist reading of the gender-risk effect by developing the “effects made by gender” approach.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Q Science > Q Science (General)
T Technology > T Technology (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Gender, Hazards, Risk assessment
ISSN: 0261-0159
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2022 08:50

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