Sexism isn’t just for human women anymore, that dishonor extends to hurricanes as well. Researchers have found that more people died in feminine-named storms because they don’t take them as seriously.
According to the Washington Post, sesearchers at the University of Illinois and Arizona State University concluded that feminine-named hurricanes saw nearly double the number of casualties. These numbers come from examining the death rates during hurricanes between 1950 and 2012; Katrina and Audrey were excluded. The study was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Sharon Shavitt, co-author of the study and professor of marketing at the University of Illinois, says the results imply an “implicit sexism.” In other words, decisions were made based on the gender of their name without even realizing it. “People imagining a ‘female’ hurricane were not as willing to seek shelter,” she said. “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.”
To test this theory, researchers set up six experiments that included a series of questions for 100 to 346 people. In one exercise, participants anticipated that masculine-named hurricanes would be more threatening than feminine-sounding ones. In another, individuals revealed a difference in preparation based on gendered names.