It seems like the title of an onion article, but it’s actually very serious. A study published today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that hurricanes with feminine names killed significantly more people than hurricanes with masculine names. The authors looked at several decades of hurricane deaths (excluding extreme outliers like Katrina and Audrey) and posed a question:
Do people judge hurricane risks in the context of gender-based expectations?
According to their study, the answer is a big yes.
Laboratory 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, because of some deep-seated perceptions of gender, people are less afraid of hurricanes with feminine names. And that means they are less likely to evacuate.