Gender in sustainability research : Inclusion, intersectionality, and patterns of knowledge production

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationJournal of Industrial Ecology
Publication statusOnline published - 4 Jan 2021


This cross-disciplinary study examines gender inclusion and intersectionality in the knowledge production of sustainability research. Building on studies of gender inclusion as essential for quality research, we develop a three-step framework that analyzes the socio-demographic profile of researchers (sustainability by whom?), key research trajectories (sustainability of what?), and beneficiaries of sustainability research (sustainability for whom?). Our methods include a survey and a bibliometric analysis. The survey was administered at the joint conference of the International Society for Industrial Ecology and the International Symposium on Sustainable Systems and Technology in 2017. The survey results show gendered differences in collaboration patterns. The survey results also indicated a good level of gender inclusion among the experts in this field, but the bibliometric analysis showed that gender issues remain marginal in the studies of industrial ecology. In contrast to industrial ecology, we found increasing attention to gender in other areas of sustainability research (climate change, corporate social responsibility, food production, resource management, energy policy, and environmental behavior and education), but even there, “gender” tends to be equated with “women” in traditional gender roles, ignoring the role of intersectionality—the intersection of gender with income, age, and other demographic characteristics. Therefore, this study makes recommendations to approach gender critically, by using theoretical lenses from gender studies scholarship (i.e., gender as a constructed, intersectional, dynamic category). We show how these lenses enable better assessments of the environmental impacts of industrial processes on people of diverse backgrounds in the context of changing patterns of work and consumption.