Queensland is the midst of a catastrophic cyclone, which has already claimed lives. And yet, our national broadcaster is spending time alluding to conspiracy gender theories, detracting away from attention paid to the devastation wreaked. Disgraceful.
ABC, Matt Liddy, March 28, 2017:
As north Queensland prepares for Cyclone Debbie and wind gusts of up to 240 kilometres an hour, could its name affect how seriously locals are taking the storm?
Probably not, as it turns out — despite a widely cited but subsequently debunked 2014 study in the respected Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.
Thousands of people have been told to leave their homes as north Queensland prepares for a cyclone that is the worst since Yasi in 2011.
The 2014 US study suggested cyclones with women’s names caused significantly more deaths than those with men’s names, “apparently because they lead to lower perceived risk and consequently less preparedness”.
It examined US hurricanes and concluded that changing a severe hurricane’s name from Charlie to Eloise could nearly triple its death toll.
“Using names such as Eloise or Charlie for referencing hurricanes has been thought by meteorologists to enhance the clarity and recall of storm information,” the study said.
“We show that this practice also taps into well-developed and widely held gender stereotypes, with potentially deadly consequences.”
The researchers pinned the blame on implicit biases, such as expecting men to be “strong, competent, and aggressive” and women to be “weak, warm, and passive”.
In turn, they said, this could lead people to take inadequate actions to protect themselves from an impending cyclone.
The advice of authorities still stands, however: Cyclone Debbie is not to be underestimated.