It seems that the latent sexist views our society has is biting us in the butt, even when it comes to the weather. Apparently in a study, hurricanes with female names kill more people than their male-named counterparts.
In a report by the Washington Post, female-named hurricanes have killed more because people don’t consider them risky and/or take the same precautions. Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University examined six decades of deaths in hurricanes, according to their gender-specified name, spanning from 1950 to 2012, with the results being posted up on the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. Of the 47 most damaging hurricanes, the female-named hurricanes produced an average of 45 deaths, which is almost double of the male-named hurricanes at an average of 23 deaths. Also, this study excluded two worst named hurricanes in United States history, which by Weather Underground are Katrina and Audrey. If both of those hurricanes were included, the numbers would have been even more skewed in favor for the female-named hurricanes.
The difference in death rates between the genders of hurricanes are more pronounced when comparing strongly masculine names versus strongly feminine names, as explained in the study below:
“[Our] model suggest that changing a severe hurricane’s name from Charley… to Eloise… could nearly triple its death toll.”
Sharon Shavitt, study co-author and professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, says the results imply an “implicit sexism”. That is, we make decisions about storms based on the gender of their name without even knowing it, in which she states:
“When under the radar, that’s when it [the sexism] has the potential to influence our judgment.”
This statement was also tested in a behavioral test, as reported in a second article by MSN. Behavioral scientist, Hazel Markus of the Stanford University, called it “very significant” and “proof positive” that gender stereotypes affect behavior even when the male and female isn’t a living thing. It did not prove why female-named hurricanes were deadlier, but the sexism is enforced through multiple lab experiments.
In one experiment, the Illinois team gave 346 volunteers no information about hurricanes except their names, and asked them to predict their intensity. Hurricanes with male names, like Omar and Marco, were given severe ratings while female-named hurricanes, like Fay and Laura, were given less. Four more additional experiences shown that a hurricanes projected path were up to 34% more likely to say they would evacuate ahead of male-named hurricanes over female-named hurricanes in the same path. Gender-neutral named hurricanes, like Sandy, fell in the middle.
In conclusion, this study on the names of hurricanes will probably help weather teams in the future, so that another Katrina or Audrey won’t happen. Honestly, all hurricanes should be taken seriously because even a category-1 hurricane can implode a house if the window is open.
[Image via Bing]