‘Ladies and kids first’ norm when Titanic sank no longer true

It is found that women fared particularly badly on ships which had British captains and passengers.

Written by Agencies | London | Published: July 31, 2012 1:33:09 pm

The gallantry of men who let women and children to be saved first when the liner Titanic sank was an exception as a new study has claimed that men including crew are much more likely to survive maritime disasters.

The policy of women and children first on the Titanic led to 70 per cent of these groups being saved,compared with just

20 per cent of the men. But Swedish researchers have found

that this act of gallantry was an exception as men on British

ships were particularly quick to grab a spot on the lifeboats.

Researchers from Uppsala University studied 16 sinkings

that have occurred since the 1850s involving around 15,000

passengers and crew to find out if ‘ladies and children first’

is still the norm,the Daily Mail reported.

“Most notably,it seems as if it is the policy of the captain,rather than the moral sentiments of men,that determines whether women get preferential treatment,” the researchers said.

“In the evacuation of the Titanic,the captain ordered ‘women and children first’ and officers were reported to have

shot at men who disobeyed the order,” they were quoted by the paper as saying.

Titanic sank in the icy waters of north Atlantic on the night of April 14,1912 four days into her maiden voyage from

Southampton to New York City.

“By investigating a much larger sample of maritime disasters than has previously been done,we show that the survival rate of women is,on average,only about half that of men,” the researchers said.

“We also find that crew members have a higher survival rate than passengers. Children appear to have the lowest survival rate,” they added.

The study was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It found that women fared particularly badly on ships which had British captains and passengers and crew that were predominately from Britain.

“This contrasts with the notion of British men being more gallant,” said the researchers.

They added that the survival of women has improved in

recent years,possibly because of the rise in feminism and the advent of less restrictive clothing.

“It seems evident that the sinking of the Titanic was

exceptional in many dimensions,” the researchers said.

“Taken together,our findings show that human behaviour in life-and-death situations is best captured by the expression

‘every man for himself’ they concluded.

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