A stark gender difference

UMR polled people in January on if they think nuclear powered ships are safe.

The answer should of course be yes, unless you regard every human activity known as unsafe.

A 1996 report found there had been no nuclear events from Western nuclear ships:

However, when it comes to  nuclear events the west has so far had a unique safety record  with no nuclear accidents.

They estimate a serious (but not nuclear) accident involving a nuclear powered ship every 50 years on average.

A more recent report says:

U.S. Nuclear Powered Warships (NPWs) have safely operated for more than 50 years without experiencing any reactor accident or any release of radioactivity that hurt human health or had an adverse effect on marine life. Naval reactors have an outstanding record of over 134 million miles safely steamed on nuclear power, and they have amassed over 5700 reactor-years of safe operation.

So the science is pretty clear on this one. But the poll result was:

  • 38% think they are safe
  • 48% not safe
  • 14% unsure

That shows how ill-informed so many people are. But what I was most interested in was this:

59% of men now believe that nuclear powered vessels are safe, compared with only 18% of women.

That is a massive difference by gender. I can’t recall another issue on which there is such a difference.

If I had to guess, I’d say it is the fear of women that a nuclear accident could interfere with any pregnancies, as in lead to deformed babies. The maternal instinct over-riding risk analysis?

What other reasons do people think might explain the difference? More men study science?

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