A paper published by Shannon Elizabeth Bell and Yvonne A. Braun titled Coal, Identity, and the Gendering of Environmental Justice Activism in Central Appalachia suggests that women are motivated by their identity as mothers to leave a better world for their children. For example, the mothers interviewed by the paper's authors viewed their own activism as a defense of their homes.
The paper also attempts to shed light on general gender differences evident in the environmental justice movement, suggesting that it is more difficult for men to participate in the environmental movement because men are motivated more by financial security.
The paper prompts me to consider how it is we can have a productive dialogue about gender differences without stepping on the many land mines that have been buried in this conversation over the course of generations of wrongdoing, misunderstanding and accumulated hurt. Putting the environmental movement aside for a moment, I think it would liberating to have an open conversation about the subject of gender in America. I think such a conversation would teach us a lot about ourselves.