330 — Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes

Jung & Shavitt et al (10.1073/pnas.1402786111)

Read on 16 July 2018
#hurricane  #gender-bias  #gender  #natural-disaster  #disaster-recovery  #implicit-bias  #masculinity  #femininity  #MFI 

If there were a natural disaster — say, a hurricane — named Cuddlebug… Would you take it seriously?

What if its name was Katrina?

I think most people would like to think that the severity of the hurricane, and hard scientific facts, would matter more to them than the name given to the storm. But this research (2014) shows very much otherwise.

When asked about different hurricanes, specfied by name, participants considered those with male names to be stronger, or more intense, and those with female names to be less intense. These were rated using a subjective “masculinity-femininity index” scale (MFI), which treats the gender of a name as a sliding continuous scale rather than a binary.

Participants tended to be less likely to shelter in place or evacuate a region when a hurricane was given a female name than a male name.

Interestingly, when asked specifically which of two hurricanes (by name) a participant would expect to be more dangerous, there was none of the previously seen gender bias: Instead, responses were split neatly 50-50.

This means that “female” hurricanes tend to be more dangerous, because the proper level of risk-mitigation behavior is taken less for female than male hurricanes. In other words, people are less likely to treat a hurricane with the adequate amount of respect for a storm of its size if its name ranks as highly feminine.