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Chivalry on Sinking Ships Only a Myth, Researchers Find

“Women and children first” was never the social norm on sinking ships, nor was the self-sacrificing captain who gives the order before going down with his vessel, a study of maritime disasters shows.

Crew members had the highest survival rates in shipwrecks, followed by captains and male passengers, according to the report today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research found that women’s survival rate on 16 maritime disasters from 1852 to 2011 was half that of men’s, and children had the worst chance of getting off the boat alive.