Women And Children First? Nah.

May 26, 2012 in Daily Bulletin, Signature

Anybody who watched Titanic will remember the valiant men who put women and children before themselves. Mikael Elinder and Oscar Erixson decided to find out if this and other expectations about behaviour during maritime disasters are accurate:

  • The popular perception is that the crew are meant to help the passengers, and the men are meant to help the women.
  • In reality the study suggests that the opposite is true. The crew has the highest survival rate, followed by men, and then women. Children have the lowest survival rate in ship-wrecks.
  • In fact the survival rate of women is 16.7% lower than that of men.
  • Contrary to the perception of the British as noble and polite, women have an even lower survival rate when they’re travelling on British ships.
  • Women have a slightly better chance of living if the captain orders women and children first – although not by much, and this in itself is a rare occurrence.
  • Overall it seems that it’s not so much “women and children first” as it is “every man for himself.”

To read more about the surprisingly high survival rate of ship captains, how this relates to our expectations of helping behaviour among the genders, how the study was conducted, how the speed of the disaster affects survival rates, if things have changed over time, and the implications this study has for disaster situations and leadership read the entire study here(.pdf).

Source: Institutet för Näringslivsforskning (.pdf warning)

Via: Freakonomics