Yesterday The Washington Post posted an article reporting a study that showed female-named hurricanes kill more people than male-named hurricanes.
The article reports:
Female-named storms have historically killed more because people neither consider them as risky nor take the same precautions, the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes.
Researchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University examined six decades of hurricane death rates according to gender, spanning 1950 and 2012. Of the 47 most damaging hurricanes, the female-named hurricanes produced an average of 45 deaths compared to 23 deaths in male-named storms, or almost double the number of fatalities. (The study excluded Katrina and Audrey, outlier storms that would skew the model).
The difference in death rates between genders was even more pronounced when comparing strongly masculine names versus strongly feminine ones.
We have been naming storms after women since 1950 and men since 1979. That means that there were 30 years of female-named storms before there were male-named storms. Of course there would be more female storms with higher death rates–there were more female storms. I really do wonder about the validity of their research.
The article explains that the study was based on questions to individuals–not actual storm history:
To test the hypothesis the gender of the storm names impacts people’s judgments about a storm, the researchers set up 6 experiments presenting a series of questions to between 100 to 346 people. The sexism showed up again.
Respondents predicted male hurricanes to be more intense the female hurricanes in one exercise. In another exercise, the hurricane sex affected how respondents said they would prepare for a hurricane.
“People imagining a ‘female’ hurricane were not as willing to seek shelter,” Shavitt said. “The stereotypes that underlie these judgments are subtle and not necessarily hostile toward women – they may involve viewing women as warmer and less aggressive than men.”
Hurricanes have been named since 1950. Originally, only female names were used; male names were introduced into the mix in 1979.
That’s not a study–it’s a survey.