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sustainability, gender, leadership, local government, policymaking


Most research examining factors associated with local government adoption of sustainability practices focuses on the impact of community characteristics. Little is known about whether adoption is also related to the characteristics of the leaders in these jurisdictions. To address this gap in the literature, this exploratory study uses data from a national survey of U.S. local governments (n = 1,672) to examine the potential correlation between adoption of certain sustainability practices and the gender of a jurisdiction’s highest elected official. Our regression models find that jurisdictions led by women were more likely to have adopted redistributive programmes and practices encouraging community-based energy conservation. But, there is no correlation between a local government’s adoption of measures promoting government energy conservation and its leader’s gender. Future research should explore whether female leaders’ greater openness to citizen involvement in the policymaking process and women’s socialisation to focus on communal rather than individual interests help account for our findings.

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This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Learning Environment: The International Journal of Justice and Sustainability on February 17th, 2021, available online:

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Available for download on Friday, February 18, 2022