Countries led by women have NOT fared significantly better in the COVID-19 pandemic than those led by men, study finds
- US and UK experts compared data on COVID-19 mortalities across 175 countries
- Of these nations, 16 are led by women and 159 are governed by male leaders
- The team found no statistically significant difference in response between these
- Instead, media bias toward developed nations has skewed perceptions, they said
- This has highlighted certain successful women leaders — like Ardern and Merkel
- The responses of male leaders like Vietnam’s have been overlooked, they added
National responses to the coronavirus pandemic have not been significantly more successful in those countries led by women, in comparison to men, a study claimed.
US and UK researchers analysed the number of deaths from COVID-19 in 175 countries during the opening months of the pandemic.
The team found that there was not statistically significant support for the notion that women leaders universally handled the pandemic better.
Instead, they argued, pandemic outcomes are likely dependent on a variety of other factors — including country-specific cultural values.
The notion that women-led countries have fared better is the result of inherent media biases, the researchers proposed.
This has amplified the success of certain women leaders in prominent, developed countries — such as New Zealand’s Jacinda Arden and Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Meanwhile, this bias has emphasised the less successful outcomes of prominent nations like the UK and the US, whose leaders, Johnson and Trump, are men.
Situations in other countries — like Vietnam, where the male PM Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has kept COVID-19 deaths to fewer than 40 — have been overlooked, the team said.
National responses to the coronavirus pandemic have not been significantly more successful in those countries led by women, in comparison to men, a study claimed. Pictured, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has been praised for her handling of COVID-19
The study was conducted by political scientist Leah Windsor of the University of Memphis, Tennessee, and colleagues.
‘Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many have suggested that countries led by women have fared better than those led by men,’ they wrote.
‘For example, New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s success in “flattening the curve” attracted initial attention and speculation about the role of leader gender in mitigating the deleterious effects of the pandemic.’
‘Iceland has garnered similar praise. Recently released scholarly analyses also suggest countries led by women have six times fewer deaths than those led by men.’
In their study, Professor Windsor and colleagues analysed deaths from COVID-19 in 175 countries over the first four months following the local ‘start’ of the pandemic.
They ran these figures three times — first treating this ‘start’ as the first reported case, then the first recorded death and finally when the death toll from the coronavirus had exceeded 1 million individuals.
The team cautioned, however, that the available number of women-led countries at present — 16, in total — provided a limited sample from which to draw conclusions.
‘While some women chief executives have shown impressive governance during the Covid-19 crisis, this has not translated to statistically significant differences in decreasing the number of cases or deaths in their countries,’ the team concluded.
‘While we find some limited support for lower reported fatality rates in countries led by women, they are not statistically significant.’
‘Country cultural values offer more substantive explanation for COVID-19 outcomes.’
The full findings of the study were published in the journal PLOS ONE.