Women leaders are faring better with COVID-19

The Conversation newsletter recently compared countries with women leaders and men leaders. The data concluded that although there are many fewer women leaders, those countries who have a woman as their leader fared much better in terms of number of cases and deaths from COVID-19.

Most of these original perceptions were anecdotal, so two universities in England decided to ‘crunch the numbers’.

A pattern had emerged early in the pandemic which pointed to Jacinta Ardern in New Zealand, Tsai Ing-Wen in Taiwan, and Angela Merkel in Germany as all appearing to manage the pandemic effectively, looking at the statistics around death rates and numbers infected.

In order to compare similar countries, the study looked at matching countries with similar profiles for the socio-demographic and economic characteristics that have influenced the transmission of COVID-19.

The study first compared countries with similar GDP per capita, population, population density and population over 65 years. It then included annual health expenditure per capita, number of tourists and gender equality.

The study found the following differences: For example:

  • Hong Kong, led by a woman, recorded 1,056 cases and 4 deaths. Singapore lead by a man recorded 28,794 cases and 22 deaths in the same period.
  • Norway, led by a woman, had 8,257 cases and 233 deaths, while Ireland, led by a man had 24,200 cases and 1,547 deaths. Taiwan recorded 440 cases and 7 deaths while South Korea led by a man had 11,078 cases and 263 deaths.
  • Comparing cases generally across the world, with the exception of Belgium led by a woman, countries led by women have performed better.
  • The study provided details comparing cases and deaths between other similar countries led by women. For example, Finland was better than Sweden, Austria and France. Germany was better than France and the UK. Bangladesh fared better than the Philippines and Pakistan in terms of deaths.

The study established reasons for these differences. Women leaders generally locked down significantly earlier than countries led by males. Women leaders appeared to be more risk-averse compared to quite risky leadership from leaders such as Boris Johnson in the UK and Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil.

Women leaders have been more risk-averse in the areas of health and prepared to sacrifice their economies if necessary, and various studies have proved these are characteristics of women leaders.

Leadership styles also influence the end results of these studies. Women are found to be more inter-personal in their style, and more likely to be more democratic and have better communication skills.

Finally, although the results of this study were developed during the early stages of the pandemic, findings have clearly demonstrated that countries led by women were systematically and significantly better off.

Ref: The Conversation

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