So, in case anyone does not know, several days ago a press release came out announcing a sociologist (Naga, correct me if you don't like that wording) study that seemed to have found a connection between gender bias/discrimination in the American populace and the death toll in a female-named hurricane. Halcyon19 brought up the article after he/she discovered it.
Quoting 302. Halcyon19:
Apparently there is gender discrimination with hurricanes?
For me, that's not surprising. What is scarier to you? Hurricane Bruce or Hurricane Jessica? According to the study, the inclination is towards Bruce being perceived as the scarier storm.
My sister alerted me to the findings (she's a graduate student at ASU in planetary geology), and she sent this to mother and I. Mother forwarded the abstract of the paper to her boss, who forwarded it to her aunt, who is a sociologist. This is what she had to say:Interesting.
Since I'm a sociologist, I was curious about the gender stereotyping aspect and began to look into their data (supporting information) and their methodology to see what they based it on. Mainly, it's a perception study having people respond to different hurricane scenarios using male versus female names.
They also said they based it upon 6 decades of death rates...(see below) so that sent me back to the statistics and data [I wondered how they got people's responses/recall information regarding whether or not they fled hurricane X or Y] but that part of the report was based upon college student responses to the fictitious scenarios, NOT the actual perception data from real hurricanes.
But to give them the benefit of the doubt, I began checking the proportion of total male names used in their data set vs female names. Loosely counting, I found 2/3 of the names in the set were female and 1/3 male. Then because I remembered that the alternate use of male versus female names for hurricanes began only around the 1980s, I googled it and verified that it started in 1979. I couldn't understand how they could say "We use more than six decades of death rates from US hurricanes to show that feminine-named hurricanes cause significantly more deaths than do masculine-named hurricanes." when the use of male names began only in 1979 - ~ 3 decades ago.
So I returned to their supporting information to see their statistics, began scrolling through the specific data file. It's okay that they had excluded Katrina since the high number of deaths would constitute an outlier. Then I revisited the data file, checked a few more things out. Wanting to re-check another bit of information, I went back to the google link and found this excellent review/critique (Yong) National Geographic Critique which examined the methodology as I was just beginning to do. They did my re-assessment for me!
-Then see the comments to that critique - See especially, the first comment at the bottom of the review. (Peter Apps, June 2, 2014)
-The original authors also provided a rejoinder and the piece de resistance that I particularly liked the comment by Will Holz, June 2:
"I want to test this!
Let%u2019s give a bunch of hurricanes really harmless names and then a bunch of others really scary ones.
If hurricanes Fluffy and Cuddlebutt end up killing far more people than Hades and Murder-Death-Kill then the data will be even stronger.
Also funnier. Except for the dead people part.
So what can I conclude: The report is a sort of amalgam of hard data (#deaths, pressure, $ cost) with an attitude survey of college students ranking of soft data (masculinity/femininity, attractiveness and intellectual competency of names) and how they somehow correlated. Gender stereotyping began lon-n-g-g-g ago when they first named them after women a la "Hell hath no fury..." "stormy" women, etc. It's interesting now that 'gender-ists' want to show how women aren't really given the 'creds' they should be given even when it comes to hurricane naming.
So, should we tell they they 'should have fear!!'
I should say this is already a few days old (sorry), and some members of the blog expressed disgust at the study. Not sure why, sociology is becoming an ever more important tool in meteorology. Meteorologists need to know how to communicate with the public. For example, no meteorologist would ever try to communicate a warning (in a similar way) to the public like this:
However, this is only one study. More should be done, along with some more interesting paths of study (like that one commenter on the Geographic review noted).
Also, more period of time is needed (unfortunately). The authors of study noted that they used 1950-2012 for the period because 1979 (when male names were introduced) -2012 is too short of a time frame for study. But they noticed the real potential for bias. The time frame was also a main source of disgust for certain bloggers here. Oh well.
Naga5000, several hours later, adds some notes to consider about the way the study was conducted.
Quoting 346. Naga5000:
My issue, like with most of these types of studies, is that it is measuring the perception of gender by college students. It is not a representative sample, it tells us nothing about the population. We know that in general younger groups have a different perception of gender in comparison to other generations and that there are generational shifts in perceptions towards gender with younger groups becoming more progressive in their views. So what they are really measuring is college students perception and that perception means very little without a comparison. Is this sample more or less gender biased than the general population?
Working on a Ph.D. in Sociology myself, I see studies like this as fun practice, but I don't see it adding much to the discipline. There are many studies showing perceived gender bias in college students, this one looks like it just used hurricanes to drum up some attention.
This was from a marketing Ph.D. student, not a sociologist.
Please continue the debate/dissection of this study below, thanks for reading!
(Note: My 'response' was copied from my comment, #307, in Dr. Master's entry found here.
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