Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes


This one takes the cake . . . 

A  group of meteorologists and geoscientists (Kiju Junga, Sharon Shavitta, Madhu Viswanathana, and Joseph M. Hilbed)   have engaged in a study trying to answer this age-old question. Here are their conclusions.

Do people judge hurricane risks in the context of gender-based expectations? We use more than six decades of death rates from US hurricanes to show that feminine-named hurricanes cause significantly more deaths than do masculine-named hurricanes. Laboratory experiments indicate that this is because hurricane names lead to gender-based expectations about severity and this, in turn, guides respondents’ preparedness to take protective action. This finding indicates an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the gendered naming of hurricanes, with important implications for policymakers, media practitioners, and the general public concerning hurricane communication and preparedness.

Meteorologists and geoscientists have called for greater consideration of social science factors that predict responses to natural hazards. We answer this call by highlighting the influence of an unexplored social factor, gender-based expectations, on the human toll of hurricanes that are assigned gendered names. Feminine-named hurricanes (vs. masculine-named hurricanes) cause significantly more deaths, apparently because they lead to lower perceived risk and consequently less preparedness. Using names such as Eloise or Charlie for referencing hurricanes has been thought by meteorologists to enhance the clarity and recall of storm information. We show that this practice also taps into well-developed and widely held gender stereotypes, with potentially deadly consequences. Implications are discussed for understanding and shaping human responses to natural hazard warnings.

For the original report go to http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2014/05/29/1402786111.abstract?sid=79a9dd5a-51c7-4dfe-95b0-25c41fec04e9

For more hurricane cartoons–very funny ones–go to http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/cartoonists/2011/08/cartoons-for-the-hurricane.html

One thought on “Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes

  1. We have a long way to get gender equality in our society if the conclusions are true.

    I wonder if a similar effect shows on the Caribbean islands, with the difference in culture and gender roles.

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