Proof Is In: Feminine Leaders Actually Are Tackling The Pandemic Higher

Over the previous couple of months, there was a lot dialogue of management in the course of the pandemic. What constitutes good management? Who has carried out higher and which international locations have been worse?


One sample that emerged early on was that feminine leaders had been seen to have dealt with the disaster remarkably effectively.

Whether or not it has been New Zealand beneath Jacinda Ardern or Taiwan beneath the presidency of Tsai Ing-Wen or Germany beneath Angela Merkel, female-led international locations have been held up as examples of methods to handle a pandemic.

We determined to analyze whether or not this anecdotal notion stands as much as extra systematic scrutiny. To do that, we analysed how leaders world wide reacted to the early days of the pandemic to see whether or not variations in efficiency might be defined by variations in coverage measures adopted by female and male leaders.

Two qualifications have to be saved in thoughts: first, we’re solely firstly of the pandemic and far may change within the subsequent few months. Second, the standard of information at present accessible is proscribed. Insufficient testing signifies that case numbers are most likely an underestimate. The way in which deaths are registered additionally varies throughout international locations.

There are far fewer female-led international locations on the planet when in comparison with male-led. Simply 10 % in our pattern of 194 international locations have ladies as nationwide leaders. Given the small variety of female-led international locations, essentially the most applicable solution to think about their efficiency is to match them with “comparable” male-led international locations.


We did this by matching international locations with comparable profiles for the socio-demographic and financial traits which have been seen as vital within the transmission of COVID-19.

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Within the first occasion, we in contrast international locations with comparable GDP per capita, inhabitants, inhabitants density and inhabitants over 65 years. We then prolonged our matching variables to incorporate three different traits: annual well being expenditure per capita, variety of vacationers coming into the nation and gender equality.

These comparisons threw up clear variations between female-led and comparable male-led international locations in the course of the first quarter of the pandemic (as much as mid-Might).

Hong Kong, which is led by a lady, recorded 1,056 instances and 4 deaths whereas Singapore, which has the same economic system and comparable demographic traits, however is led by a person, recorded 28,794 instances and 22 deaths in the identical interval.

Equally, Norway, led by a lady, had eight,257 instances and 233 deaths, whereas Eire, led by a person, recorded 24,200 instances and 1,547 deaths. Taiwan recorded 440 instances and 7 deaths whereas South Korea had 11,078 instances and 263 deaths.

Evaluating instances throughout comparable international locations. (Creator offered)

International locations led by ladies have carried out higher, particularly by way of deaths and that is true whether or not we think about the closest comparable nation, the closest two, three and even 5.

Belgium is an outlier, having appeared to carry out badly on instances and deaths whereas led by a lady. However regardless of its inclusion, the general outcomes concerning women-led international locations stands.

For instance, Finland was higher than Sweden, Austria, and France by way of each instances and deaths. Germany was higher than France and the UK. Bangladesh fared higher than the Phillippines and Pakistan by way of deaths.

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Comparison between countries with similar socio-demographics. (Author provided)Comparability between international locations with comparable socio-demographics. (Creator offered)

Taking dangers

Analysing what may trigger this differential efficiency, we discover that the female-led international locations locked down considerably sooner than the male-led international locations.

Feminine-led international locations like New Zealand and Germany locked down way more rapidly and decisively than male-led ones just like the UK. On common, they’d 22 deaths fewer at lockdown when in comparison with their male counterparts.


We thought-about whether or not these outcomes may suggest that ladies leaders are extra danger averse. Literature on attitudes to danger and uncertainty suggests that ladies – even these in management roles – look like extra averse to danger than males.

Certainly, within the present disaster, a number of incidents of dangerous behaviour by male leaders have been reported. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro dismissed COVID-19 as “a bit flu or a little bit of a chilly” and UK prime minister Boris Johnson stated he “shook arms with everyone” on a hospital go to. Each males subsequently contracted the virus.

Nonetheless, it is a simplistic rationalization. Whereas ladies leaders had been danger averse with regard to lives, they’ve clearly been ready to take important and early dangers with their economies by locking down early.

So ladies leaders appear to have been considerably extra danger averse within the area of human life, however extra danger taking within the area of the economic system.

We discover some assist for this concept in research that study risk-taking behaviour when lotteries are framed as losses. Males are discovered to be extra danger averse than ladies when lotteries are framed as monetary losses relatively than features.

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It may effectively be that the comparatively late lockdown selections by male leaders could mirror male danger aversion to anticipated losses from locking down the economic system.

Comparing Covid deaths across similar nations. (Author provided)Evaluating COVID-19 deaths throughout comparable nations. (Creator offered)

Management type

One other rationalization of gender variations in response to the pandemic is to be discovered within the management types of women and men.

Research recommend that males are prone to lead in a “task-oriented” type and girls in an “interpersonally-oriented” method. Girls subsequently are inclined to undertake a extra democratic and participative type and have a tendency to have higher communications abilities.


This has been in proof throughout this disaster within the decisive and clear communication types adopted by a number of feminine leaders, whether or not or not it’s Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg talking on to youngsters or Ardern checking in along with her residents by means of Fb lives.

Our findings present that COVID-outcomes within the early phases of the pandemic had been systematically and considerably higher in international locations led by ladies. This, to some extent, could also be defined by the proactive coverage responses they adopted.

Even accounting for institutional context and different controls, being female-led has offered international locations with a bonus within the present disaster. The Conversation

Supriya Garikipati, Affiliate Professor of Improvement Economics, College of Liverpool and Uma S Kambhampati, Professor of Economics; Head of College, College of Studying.

This text is republished from The Dialog beneath a Inventive Commons license. Learn the unique article.


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