Study Shows Hurricanes Given Female Names More Deadly

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Turns out gender bias even affects the weather. Sort of.

New research published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America reveals that hurricanes given female names – like Isabel and Katrina – cause significantly more deaths than those with male monikers.

According to the study, which looked at more than 60 years of data on the storms, “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.”

In other words, socially ingrained notions about femininity may be leading those preparing for a hurricane to perceive a storm with a girl’s name as less threatening than it is.

“Using names such as Eloise or Charlie for referencing hurricanes has been thought by meteorologists to enhance the clarity and recall of storm information,” the researchers write. “We show that this practice also taps into well-developed and widely held gender stereotypes, with potentially deadly consequences.”

The scientists say their data could impact hurricane preparedness efforts and influence policy makers.

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