Sexism Makes Female-Named Storms More Deadly

Our hurricane-naming system taps into an unconscious sexism—and the results are potentially disastrous, researchers say. A study suggests that when we hear a female name for a hurricane, we’re less worried, and thus less likely to prepare adequately, than we would be if the name were male, the Washington Post reports. “These findings suggest the value of considering a new system for hurricane naming to reduce the influence of biases on hurricane risk assessments,” researchers write.

Experts reviewed the 47 most damaging hurricanes between 1950, when naming began, and 2012. They found that hurricanes with female names killed an average of 45 people, while those with male names killed an average of 23. In surveys, respondents expected more intensity from hurricanes with male names, while “people imagining a ‘female’ hurricane were not as willing to seek shelter,” says researcher Sharon Shavitt. Some journalists asked her whether the study was a joke, she tells the Los Angeles Times. Nope: “It now appears that gender biases apply not only to people, but also to things.”

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Debbie Crowe
Debbie Crowe2 years ago

I don't care if a hurricane is named female or male, I will run for shelter!

Rose Roma
Rose R.2 years ago

Predictive txt changed BEZOS to Brazos. Maybe we should let predictive tx assign storm names. ANYHOW... worked the destruction in person after Hurricane Andrew and destruction is destruction. Perhaps we should allow the direct survivors to (re?)name hurricanes, tsunamis and typhoons. Anyone know why tornadoes are NOT named? Here floods are named after holidays or locations.

ScoTT S.
ScoTT S.2 years ago

You're going to get a good laugh out of this one, Teresa. According to the Washingtom Post article, changing a storm's name from Charlie to Eloise increases its damage threefold. (The article really does say that specifying those names) I wonder how many meterologists were involved in that survey, and how many agreed with such a ludicrous asinine baseless claim. How does changing a name (an arbitrary designation set far in advance of the storm, bearing no relation to the storm itself except that Bob follows Abigail) make even the slightest difference to how damaging the storm will be? “It could be that more people die in female-named hurricanes, simply because more people died in hurricanes on average before they started getting male names,” said Jeff Lazo at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. The authors make a lame attempt at justification and fail - "What this told us is that there appears to be a statistically meaningful relationship between hurricane damage and femininity of name (for severe storms). Of course any model, significant or not, allows for the possibility of being mistaken." As if the storm itself had sufficient consciousness to become more deadly by having a female name? Really?

Rose Roma
Rose R.2 years ago

Stars to Nancy, Jordan & ScoTT. (Article, pls return to back hole; we are not helped by heaps of ignorant "make writing"; although it has been explained to me how some on-line writing pays the pseudo authors in a few pennies.) Maybe the recent sale of the Wash. Post to Brazos will mark a return to journalism & research.

ScoTT S.
ScoTT S.2 years ago

Well, of course female named hurricanes did more damage than male named ones since 1950. Hurricanes didn't even have male names until 1980. The female names had a 30 year head start - 780 potential female named hurricanes from 1950 to 1980, and ZERO male named hurricanes. How can what does not exist do any damage at all? Why are they going back to 1950 to determine that female named hurricanes did more damage WHEN FOR THOSE SAME THIRTY YEARS MALE NAMED HURRICANES DID NOT EVEN EXIST?

Nancy Hatcher
Nancy Hatcher2 years ago

Okay, were the boys that did this study bored? Is there nothing else to do with their time? Who would fund a silly study like this?

How about you spend your time studying something worthwhile like global warming, safe food supplies, violence, etc. There are a lot more important needs!

Rhonda B.
Rhonda B.2 years ago


Teresa W.
Teresa W.2 years ago

What is funny, Oumar?

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants2 years ago

Alex, some men actually profit from sexism.

Anteater Ants
Anteater Ants2 years ago

well said, Alex