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.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Female hurricanes are deadlier than male hurricanes
The fact that I am driving away from Madison Wisconsin tomorrow, to my cold weather nest in Fort Lauderdale Florida, made me recall this interesting bit on hurricanes, which are still a possibility for a month or two after my arrival in Florida.