Representative image
Representative image

When natural disasters strike, men and women respond differently: Study

ANI | Updated: Sep 22, 2019 23:08 IST

Washington D.C. [USA], Sept 22 (ANI): A study found that women happen to take action and evacuate quickly in comparison to the men in their life during any natural disaster.
"We found that there are many barriers that put women to disadvantage in the event of a disaster, leaving them behind when it comes to decision-making and potentially slowing down their recovery," said lead author Melissa Villarreal, a PhD student in the Department of Sociology and research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center.
For the study, co-authored by Texas A and M University Assistant Professor Michelle Meyer and published in the journal - Disasters -- the researchers analysed in-depth interviews with 33 women and 10 men across two Texas towns.
Residents were asked about their experiences in the midst of and the year after the disaster. While the circumstances surrounding the events were very different, common 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," said Meyer, director of the Hazard Reduction and Recovery Center at Texas A and M.
In one interview, a Granbury woman recounted hunkering down in the closet with her children, 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 deferred, and they ended up stuck in the car, the children in the back seat, being jostled by the wind as the tornado whipped through.
"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," Villareal wrote. "In some cases, this put women and their families in greater danger."
The findings are the latest in a series of studies that have found that women tend to have a higher perception of risk, but because they are framed as "worriers," they are sometimes not taken seriously.
Women in the new study also complained that recovery organisations tended to call the men of the household to find out where to direct aid, even when women had filled out the forms requesting it.
"Eliminating the male head-of-household model is crucial for speeding overall household recovery," the authors concluded. (ANI)