‘Severe hurricanes with feminine names are associated with significantly higher death rates,’ say researchers
Hurricanes with feminine names are more deadly than storms given masculine monikers because people take them less seriously, a study has claimed.
Research suggests changing a severe hurricane’s name from Charlie to Eloise could triple the death toll.
Authorities name large storms because they believe it helps people remember advice on how to protect themselves from the weather, researchers said. But “this practice also taps into well-developed and widely held gender stereotypes, with potentially deadly consequences,” they wrote in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the US.
Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University analysed more than six decades’ worth of data in reaching their conclusion.
They wrote: “We demonstrate that a natural disaster can, merely by being symbolically associated with a given sex through its assigned name, be judged in ways congruent with the corresponding social roles and expectations of that sex. “In particular, analyses of archival data on actual fatalities caused by hurricanes in the United States indicate that severe hurricanes with feminine names are associated with significantly higher death rates.
“An explanation for this unexpected finding is tested in six experiments. These experiments show that gender-congruent perceptions of intensity and strength are responsible for male-named hurricanes being perceived as riskier and more intense than female-named hurricanes.