Of the 20 people killed in British Columbia avalanches in the past two winters, every victim was male. And of the more than 70 people killed since 2002, only two have been women.

This is a trend as old as history and one that likely won’t change any time soon, said Juliet Zhu, a marketing professor at the University of B.C. with an interest in psychology and gender difference.

“There has always been a tendency for men to engage in more risky behaviour than women,” Zhu said. “It may have something to do with traditional roles played by genders.”

She said men take it for granted that they can and should be able to take more risks.

“There’s also that overconfidence that tends to be exhibited by men. And our society tends to nurture it with (the mentality that) boys don’t cry and are supposed to be strong. It becomes a social norm.”

While women don’t tend to cross those boundaries, Zhu said they are starting to take more high-risk jobs and engage in more aggressive sports.

“There is still a big gap and that probably will never (change),” Zhu said.

While men are far more likely than women to put themselves in danger in the backcountry, people in their 20s are more likely than those over 30 to do so.

According to Mary Clayton with the Canadian Avalanche Centre, her organization is doing a lot of work at schools passing on the message of backcountry education and safety.