It’s the latest in a series of studies suggesting that women tend to have a higher perception of risk but aren’t always taken seriously because they are considered “worriers.”

By Meghan Overdeep
September 23, 2019
Mario Tama/Getty Images

New research suggests that women are quicker to take cover or prepare to evacuate during an emergency, but often have trouble convincing the men in their life to do so.

The study, led by the University of Colorado at Boulder and co-authored by Texas A&M University Assistant Professor Michelle Meyer, examined how gender influences natural disaster response.

Researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 33 women and 10 men in two Texas towns: Granbury and West. Granbury experienced an EF-4 tornado in 2013 that killed six and damaged 600 homes. An explosion at a fertilizer company killed 15 and destroyed 100 homes that same year in West.

The participants were asked about their experiences during the disaster and in the year following. Despite the obvious differences in the two events, gender-influenced patterns emerged.

“We often assume that men and women are going to respond the same way to these kinds of external stimuli but we are finding that’s not really the case,” Meyer said in a University of Colorado at Boulder news release.

In one interview, a Granbury woman recalled being hunkered down in a closet with her children and pleading with her husband—who was looking out the window at the tornado—to come in and join them. In another case, a woman resisted her husband’s plan to get in the car and drive away from the storm, preferring to shelter in place. She ultimately agreed, and they ended up stuck in the car as the tornado buffeted them about.

WATCH: Biggest Study of Teen Brains in U.S. History Hopes to Reveal Effects of Screen Time

It’s the latest in a series of studies suggesting that women tend to have a higher perception of risk but aren’t always taken seriously because they are considered “worriers.”

“Women seemed to have a different risk perception and desire for protective action than the men in their lives, but men often determined when and what type of action families took,” writes lead author Melissa Villarreal. “In some cases, this put women and their families in greater danger.”

Advertisement