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Women ‘don’t understand fracking’: Expert

A large number of women are opposed to "fracking," the controversial process for extracting gas and oil from underground shale deposits, because they don't understand it, a female scientist has told The Times of London

Averil Macdonald, chairwoman of shale gas lobby group U.K. Onshore Oil and Gas and a professor at the University of Reading, said women tended to act on gut instinct and were more likely to reject fracking because of a lack of education.

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"Frequently the women haven't had very much in the way of a science education because they may well have dropped science at 16. That is just a fact," Macdonald told The Times.

"Women do tend not to have continued with science. Not only do [they] show more of a concern about fracking, they also know that they don't know and they don't understand. They are concerned because they don't want to be taking [something] on trust. And that's actually entirely reasonable."

The controversial procedure of hydraulic fracturing – or "fracking" –involves pumping water, sand and chemicals into a well to extract oil or gas. The rocks are then fractured, and gas can escape to the surface through the cracks. The potential impact on landscapes and water supplies is particularly concerning to environmentalists.

Fracking used to extract shale gas has been banned or halted in much of Western Europe. The U.S., on the other hand, has moved closer to energy independence by using the procedure, which has raised concerns about its long-term environmental impact.

Macdonald, who is also a board member of the U.K.'s Women in Science and Engineering, said that women were more likely to form opinions based on "feel" and "gut reaction".

"Why are men persuaded? That's because an awful lot of facts have been put forward," she said. "[Men] will say, 'fair enough, understand'. But women, for whatever reason, have not been persuaded by the facts. More facts are not going to make any difference. What we have got to do is understand the gut reaction, the feel. The dialogue is more important than the dissemination of facts."

You can read the full article here.

Catherine Boyle contributed to the writing of this report.

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