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Hurricanes with female names are more deadly and destructive than those with male names as New Yorkers found out during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. (Photo: Shutterstock/donvictorio)

Much has been written about subtle discrimination against women and gender bias in the most unlikely places. As we approach the three-year anniversary of Hurricane Sandy (Oct. 22–31, 2012) and the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina last August, we want to share the results of a 2014 study published by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, which found that people judge hurricane risks in the context of gender-based expectations.

The hurricane researchers hypothesized correctly that individuals assess their vulnerability to hurricanes and take actions based not only on objective indicators of hurricane severity but also on the gender of hurricanes. This pattern may emerge, they suggested, because individuals “systematically underestimate” their vulnerability to hurricanes with more feminine names, avoiding or delaying protective measures.

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