Are female hurricanes really more deadly than male hurricanes?
A recent study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences looked at hurricanes in America between 1950 and 2012 and found that hurricanes with female names kill more people than hurricanes with male names, an average of 45 to 23.
If I have taught you anything on Rational Reactor, it is that things are not always what they seem on the surface. Hurricane names are chosen years in advance and placed in alphabetical order. Male and female names are usually alternated, so it’s completely random what gender a storm’s name is assigned.
So why the difference in deaths? The study believes this may be because people subconsciously view a feminine-named storm as being less of a threat, resulting in a lower perceived risk and therefore less preparedness.
“People imagining a ‘female’ hurricane were not as willing to seek shelter,” said the study’s co-author Sharon Shavitt. “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.”
Perhaps with this insight, we should begin naming all hurricanes after villains. Hurricane Voldemort, anyone?