I am not making this up.
A study recently revealed that people do not take female-named hurricanes as seriously as male-named hurricanes. I wish I were making this up. But the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that, as Capital Weather Gang notes, “Female-named storms have historically killed more because people neither consider them as risky nor take the same precautions.”
(Obviously, this is just one factor in how people process hurricane risk, but still. Wow.)
“Can female-named hurricanes have it all?” wondered Matt Yglesias on Twitter.
Unclear. Hurricane Ethel picks up just as many cattle as Hurricane Ethan, but people still stay put in her path. (“We don’t need to evacuate yet. Women take FOREVER to get ready! Besides, I doubt Ethel is actually all that comfortable with violence, and midway through storming around and razing families she will probably take time off to raise a family.”)
I can only imagine the implications this will have for other forms of weather, say “Gale-force winds.” (“How strong is a Gail, really?”) or Ava Lanches (“Wake me when it’s an Evan Lanch”).
Female hurricanes have to do everything male hurricanes do — produce lots of winds and flooding, jeopardize lives and property, and they still don’t get the respect awarded their male colleagues. I wasn’t privy to the data, but I assume it was even worse for old-lady hurricanes like “Edith” and “Ethel” and “Myrtle,” which people assumed would not do any damage other than gently urging people in their path to eat a lot of Werther’s Originals and then slowly and confusingly retelling the plots of movies they had seen on basic cable without using any proper names.
The younger names were just as bad. “Hurricane Ashley? I’m sure that hurricane is way too active on Tumblr to be able to wreak any serious havoc. I bet she CAN’T EVEN.”
And that doesn’t take into consideration hurricanes that had vocal fry.
People no doubt assumed that, even if they did get pretty close, the female hurricanes would run into a glass ceiling somewhere along the way or at the very least be hindered by the lack of anything comparable to the Old Hurricane Boys network.
And, in consequence of this misunderestimation, these hurricanes do more damage than their male counterparts. (“Isn’t that classic,” they grouse at networking events. “More damage, less respect.” “Story of my life.” “I remember when all hurricanes had female names, not just some of them,” another grouses. “Why don’t we return to that?” Another sighs. “Then people might not evacuate at all.”)
A rose by any other name might smell as sweet — but a Hurricane Rose is another story entirely.
This has been your daily reminder that gender stereotypes actually do have an impact out there in real life.