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Anti-fracking protesters in Lancashire pictured celebrating in June after city counselors rejected plan for UK's first fracking site. (Photo: Reuters)

Anti-fracking protesters in Lancashire pictured celebrating in June after city counselors rejected plan for UK's first fracking site. (Photo: Reuters)

Women with Facts Fight Back Against Fracking... and Sexism

'Women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts,' said Averil Macdonald, newly-appointed chair of UK Onshore Oil and Gas

Sarah Lazare

Sexist comments this week made by a prominent fracking industry lobbyist stirred considerable outrage—and immediate social media backlash—from opponents of the dangerous and polluting gas drilling technique.

Averil Macdonald, the newly-appointed chair of UK Onshore Oil and Gas, an industry lobby group, told British media this week that women are less likely than men to support fracking because they "have not been persuaded by the facts" and instead rely on their emotions.

"Women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts. More facts are not going to make any difference," said Macdonald, who is also an emeritus professor of science engagement at Reading University, told The Times.

"What we have got to do is understand the gut reaction, the feel," she continued. "The dialogue is more important than the dissemination of facts."

"Frequently the women haven’t had very much in the way of a science education because they may well have dropped science at 16," she continued. "That is just a fact."

"Why are men persuaded?" she posed. "That’s because an awful lot of facts have been put forward. Men are much more likely to say 'fair enough' and that they understand."

Prominent biologist, author, and fracking opponent Sandra Steingraber fired back on social media Friday by creating a hashtag #FrackingGirlFacts to counter Macdonald's claims.

Others were quick to join in the social media response by highlighting scientific evidence to show that those concerned about fracking do, in fact, understand the facts.

Macdonald's controversial statements follow research which shows that women are more concerned than men about the controversial shale drilling process.

A poll released in October by the University of Nottingham and YouGov found that, while 58 percent of men think the shale gas should be explored in Britain using the controversial drilling method, just 31.5 percent of women are in favor.


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