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Study purports to show that ‘gender bias’ makes ‘female hurricanes’ more deadly

Environment
Climate change skeptics revealed research that says Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were not caused by climate change. (NASA/NOAA GOES Project via Getty Images)

According to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, female-named hurricanes are more deadly than male-named hurricanes. Why? The answer is simple: society's gender bias, of course.

The team of researchers purported that upon hearing a hurricane with a feminine name, society did not take the threat as seriously because of implicit gender bias.

"Feminine-named hurricanes (vs. masculine-named hurricanes) cause significantly more deaths, apparently because they lead to a lower perceived risk and consequently less preparedness," the researchers wrote in the world-renowned scientific journal.

According to CNN, the researchers not only analyzed death tolls from hurricanes occurring between 1950 and 2012, but also conducted their own independent experiments. One experiment had participants predict the intensity of 10 hurricanes — five with male names and five with female names.

The results showed that both male and female participants assumed the male hurricanes were more dangerous and deadly. Another experiment showed that participants would evacuate their homes at a much higher rate if the hurricane was named "Alexander" rather than "Alexandra."

"These experiments show that gender-congruent perceptions of intensity and strength are responsible for male-named hurricanes being perceived as riskier and more intense than female-named hurricanes," the study said. "These findings have important implications for hurricane preparedness and public safety."

"For severe storms, where taking protective action would have the greatest potential to save lives, the masculinity-femininity of a hurricane's name predicted its death toll," it added.

The study urges policymakers to reconsider the current naming-system of hurricanes to reduce the implicit bias that exists in society regarding gender. It also requests that media professionals refrain from using the pronouns "he" or "she" when referring to hurricanes.

Hurricane Harvey, which was the first major hurricane to make landfall in the United States since Wilma in 2005, has killed at least 66 people so far and prompted thousands of rescues as Texas residents sat on rooftops waiting for help.

FEMA director Brock Long called Harvey the worst disaster in Texas history. "This is a landmark event for Texas," he said at the time. "Texas has never seen an event like this."

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