The prime minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern
July 24, 2020 9: 24
COVID-19 : the country headed by women, were they better shot ?
The Detector rumors
DETECTOR RUMORS / New Zealand, Taiwan, Germany, Norway, Finland, Iceland… common to these countries ? They have pretty well succeeded in controlling the pandemic. They are also headed by women. But can we actually make this link ? The Detector of rumors nuance.
In the past few months, several analysts in the media were raised that the women leaders had better controlled their cases of coronavirus, communicated better and reacted more quickly to the crisis. While the virus is still on the run, it is not possible to draw conclusions as firm. Nevertheless, here are some of the arguments advanced.
All the leaders who are well learned are not women ; but those who have especially made a very poor figure are all men.
This argument referred to by the columnist Nicholas Kristof, the New York Times, does not take into account the fact that only 10% of the heads of State of the world are women. They are in fact so few in number that it is tempting to consider them as representative of their genre, what you don’t with the men.
In addition, this trend is not one-way. Belgium, directed by Sophie Wilmès, has one of the highest rates of deaths due to the COVCID-19 per million inhabitants. The one that heads the executive of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, has been criticized for his handling of the pandemic. In the United States, a professor of political science noted that the gouverneures have not imposed confinement more quickly than their male counterparts ; the difference is rather according to the political parties.
More inclusive societies : a success factor ?
A female leader would be an indicator among others that people with different perspectives will be at the origin of the decisions, which would provide less dead spots and would offer more comprehensive solutions. If this scenario were to verify, it would be certain that, before such a complex situation as a pandemic, this would be an advantage. For instance, in Germany the government of Angela Merkel has considered a variety of information that you otherwise may not hear : epidemiological models, data from health professionals, compared with strategies of other countries. For their part, Sweden and the United Kingdom would have relied mainly to epidemiological models, and very few experts outside of the government apparatus.
A style of leadership different ?
The research has not established that women leaders were more or less effective, but some work suggests trends in leadership styles. According to the lawyer, Peter Huang, of the University of Colorado, the women would for example, during this crisis, were more likely to recognize their limitations and to consult experts. Leaders with an authoritarian style as in Brazil, the United States, in Russia or in England, would have left their ego and carry out their decisions.
An analysis of the magazine Politico also points to the characteristics of leadership, ” feminine “, such as collaboration and compassion. Women leaders are more empathetic, in addition to two american researchers ; they would put more emphasis on human dignity and “care”. In some men, the tendency to not want to show weakness is also pointing the finger.
Finally, experts interviewed by the magazine Vox have argued that women leaders would be more able to call for cooperation and solidarity, in contrast to male leaders. Some men would feel rather a pressure to conform to the practices of crisis management that are rooted in what is perceived as a “masculinity — traditional, and even toxic.”
But this vision is essentialist is far from unanimous. “Women are better leaders in the context of a public health crisis not because they are women or because they demonstrate qualities “feminine”, but because they have the skills necessary to lead a country,” highlights “newsletter ” feminist” The Glorious. The allocations different according to sex is more reflective of the perceptions and stereotypes related to gender ; a leadership-type women, therefore, could be adopted by a man.
In any case, with so few women at the head of the States, it is easy to fall into the cherry picking. The columnist of the New York Times quoted above said to have selected 21 countries, of which 13 are headed by men. But it does not list countries, nor did it specify why these have been chosen rather than others.
We compare sometimes Finland (with its first minister Sanna Marin), and Sweden, which have adopted approaches that are radically different from before the pandemic ; or it highlights the success of Taiwan (led by a president), not to mention Singapore or South Korea, which were also controlled successfully the pandemic (other articles combine the “culture of obedience Asians” with the control of the epidemic, another analysis a little lame).
There are two small studies that have wanted to see if women leaders had done better during the pandemic. Not yet reviewed by peers, they have several weaknesses. The first study, from the University of Liverpool, does not mention, it not most, of the countries included in its analysis. Even if both studies conclude that women have done better, they have found no variations statistically significant according to the gender.
Pandemic preparedness, infection control, test strategy, population density, wealth and access to health care, demography, cross-border travel : all of these factors play into the success — or failure — of each country. Small countries like Taiwan and New Zealand, which are moreover of the islands, can also be applied more quickly some measures, such as the closure of borders or the large-scale tests.
Attribute the success of a country in the kind of its head is a perilous exercise, which was perhaps a matter of confirmation bias. But at least, the success of many of the leaders had contradicted the old preconceived idea according to which, men were in all strokes better leaders than women.