Gender Bias and Hurricanes

By: Astrometeor , 10:20 PM GMT on June 10, 2014

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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.

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Quoting 302. Halcyon19:

Interesting article:

Link

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.


Bad fluffy!"

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.

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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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24. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
5:58 AM GMT on June 14, 2014
Astrometeor has created a new entry.
23. Astrometeor
5:51 AM GMT on June 14, 2014
Quoting 3. MaxWeather:



It doesn't matter is they came before or after...
Storms were not maned since ever anyways.




One more thing I would like to say is this: even though storms weren't named, for the longest of time storms had female connotations (blame sailors).

Of course, these experienced seamen took these systems seriously. Obviously the general public does not.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
22. originalLT
4:20 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Well, I guess I won't be around for the next Friday The 13th Full Moon.-- 2049. I'd have to be 100years old for that to happen! Oh Well.
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7732
21. Astrometeor
3:52 AM GMT on June 12, 2014


This full moon occurs at 12:11 AM EDT...so...it occurs on Thursday the 12th for all of those who live in CDT and west towards the International Date Line.

Lame!
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
20. BaltimoreBrian
3:21 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
You'll pick it up fast. Get it at least a month before you go. Then you'll have figured it out.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8714
19. Astrometeor
3:19 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Quoting 18. BaltimoreBrian:

You'll need a smartphone when you're in college also. Seriously.


I know Brian. Do you think I'm going to attend college without one? I'm not going anywhere 'till I get my electronics.

The hard part will be learning how to use the stuff. I'm like an old person when it comes to tech....I stink.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
18. BaltimoreBrian
3:17 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
You'll need a smartphone when you're in college also. Seriously.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8714
17. Astrometeor
3:15 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Quoting 16. BaltimoreBrian:

Have you gotten a cell phone yet?


No. We're doing some cursory searching right now for a new laptop. Probably won't get anything until July.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
16. BaltimoreBrian
3:11 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Have you gotten a cell phone yet?
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8714
15. Astrometeor
3:10 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Quoting 12. BaltimoreBrian:

You should see Cody's T-shirt ;)


He promised me he would write consistent blog entries for TC Douglas, but I'm scared I'll miss them since I'll be without internet all next week...and the way the EPac has been going...
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
14. Naga5000
2:51 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Quoting 13. BaltimoreBrian:




Don't make me have to theorize all up in here, Brian.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 3625
13. BaltimoreBrian
1:57 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Quoting 9. Naga5000:



We study people and knowledge creation. It isn't a waste to see how groups define and view gender under specific circumstances. It may not interest you, but that doesn't give you right to dismiss an entire field of study.

People think studying climate is a waste of money, too. The same for weather, so think twice before you attack other fields.

Please don't misunderstand me, a large part of social science is critique. Flaws and weaknesses are pointed out to better refine future studies. It is one thing to critique the study for methodology or theoretical basis, it is another thing to completely dismiss it as a waste.
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8714
12. BaltimoreBrian
1:46 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
You should see Cody's T-shirt ;)
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8714
11. Astrometeor
1:28 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Quoting 10. BaltimoreBrian:




Omg, you spelled my name wrong AND you didn't capitalize the first letter.

>:(
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
10. BaltimoreBrian
12:26 AM GMT on June 12, 2014
Member Since: August 9, 2011 Posts: 26 Comments: 8714
9. Naga5000
4:37 PM GMT on June 11, 2014
Quoting 2. Bluestorm5:



Hugo and Andrew were both pretty bad before Katrina, though...

I really don't understand why people are studying this kind of stuff. Waste of money, IMO.


We study people and knowledge creation. It isn't a waste to see how groups define and view gender under specific circumstances. It may not interest you, but that doesn't give you right to dismiss an entire field of study.

People think studying climate is a waste of money, too. The same for weather, so think twice before you attack other fields.

Please don't misunderstand me, a large part of social science is critique. Flaws and weaknesses are pointed out to better refine future studies. It is one thing to critique the study for methodology or theoretical basis, it is another thing to completely dismiss it as a waste.
Member Since: June 1, 2010 Posts: 4 Comments: 3625
8. originalLT
2:58 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
Yeah, that works, Astro but my example was an "ode" or "Tribute" to the Sopranos!
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7732
7. Astrometeor
2:54 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
Quoting 4. originalLT:

Max you are right about Tony and Sandy. I can just see the headlines in the NY PosT or Daily News, if it was Tony and not named Sandy----"Tony wacks New Jersey"!


Nah, you got the headline wrong. Have to use some alliteration.

"Tony tackles New Jersey on Tuesday!"
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
6. Astrometeor
2:43 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
Quoting 2. Bluestorm5:



Hugo and Andrew were both pretty bad before Katrina, though...

I really don't understand why people are studying this kind of stuff. Waste of money, IMO.


I thought the study was interesting. Flawed, but it showed serious potential. Just need a wider cast of the populace (as in most of the responders were college age), and some more detailed questions and I think this has some interesting possibilities for meteorologists and emergency managers.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
5. Astrometeor
2:40 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
To the commenters, Katrina was never even considered. Katrina was thrown out because she was an outlier.

There were other parts of this study that were conducted. One experiment was to take three hurricanes of equal strength and damage potential, same location of landfall, just different names. One was named Hurricane (control), one was named Hurricane Jessica, and the other Hurricane Bruce. The gender bias in that experiment was still evident.
Member Since: July 2, 2012 Posts: 101 Comments: 10425
4. originalLT
2:08 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
Max you are right about Tony and Sandy. I can just see the headlines in the NY PosT or Daily News, if it was Tony and not named Sandy----"Tony wacks New Jersey"!
Member Since: January 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 7732
3. MaxWeather
1:36 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
Quoting 2. Bluestorm5:



Hugo and Andrew were both pretty bad before Katrina, though...

I really don't understand why people are studying this kind of stuff. Waste of money, IMO.


It doesn't matter is they came before or after...
Storms were not maned since ever anyways.

Member Since: April 11, 2014 Posts: 26 Comments: 1302
2. Bluestorm5
1:35 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
Quoting 1. MaxWeather:

All I know is that based on history women names have been more destructive and devastating than male names for hurricanes.

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Sandy*
hurricane Isabel
Hurricane Wilma
Hurricane Rita



But really this is nothing we can theorize or make conclusions out of because it happens randomly. No one knows such name for a storm may make it deadly and be remembered.

*If sandy had waited a little longer as TD 18, TD 19 would have been named Sandy and this one Tony. Sandy could have been Tony if it delayed some 12 hours as TD.


*** too much reading... I hope I'm not off topic


Hugo and Andrew were both pretty bad before Katrina, though...

I really don't understand why people are studying this kind of stuff. Waste of money, IMO.
Member Since: August 1, 2011 Posts: 28 Comments: 8041
1. MaxWeather
12:30 AM GMT on June 11, 2014
All I know is that based on history women names have been more destructive and devastating than male names for hurricanes.

Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Sandy*
hurricane Isabel
Hurricane Wilma
Hurricane Rita



But really this is nothing we can theorize or make conclusions out of because it happens randomly. No one knows such name for a storm may make it deadly and be remembered.

*If sandy had waited a little longer as TD 18, TD 19 would have been named Sandy and this one Tony. Sandy could have been Tony if it delayed some 12 hours as TD.


*** too much reading... I hope I'm not off topic
Member Since: April 11, 2014 Posts: 26 Comments: 1302

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Age: 18, b-day is 8/27. Graduate of MLK High in Nashville, TN. Will attend MU in PA. Love football, soccer, Frisbee, Scouts, Science Olympiad.

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