Working and lower middle class women and obstacles to environmentally related public meeting participation

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Public meetings that are attended by a broadly representative cross-section of the potentially affected public are more likely than those that aren't to provide decision makers with an understanding of the range of citizen concerns regarding a potential decision. Previous research suggests that working and lower middle class women are particularly unlikely to attend environmentally related public meetings. This decreases the likelihood that decision makers will fully understand citizen concerns as a result of these meetings. This article reports on the results of a small qualitative study aimed at understanding why these women are less likely to attend. The interviewed women were socially oriented in their skills, activities, and sense of self-confidence. This, along with the way that these women conceptualized "environment," suggests that they are unlikely to see themselves as valuable participants in a public meeting on an environmental issue. Other obstacles to their participation, including a lack of time and self-confidence, pertained more to women in one life stage than another. Environmental managers may attract more working and lower middle class women by making our suggested choices regarding meeting technique, attributes, and advertising. © 2002 National Association of Environmental Professionals.

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Environmental Practice