A piece in today’s Times – by Rhys Blakely, Science Correspondent – a man!!! Heads will roll…
Germany under its female leader Angela Merkel has a lower Covid-19 death rate than Boris Johnson’s Britain, a report points out. Finland, where the prime minister Sanna Marin heads a coalition of four parties led by women, has outperformed Sweden, which has a male leader. Taiwan’s female leader, Tsai Ing-wen, has kept its coronavirus deaths to just seven.
Faced with these statistics, some observers have argued that in a pandemic it pays to have a woman in charge.
Yet analysis suggests that if you take into account all of the countries with female leaders, rather than cherry pick the best in the richest countries, their advantage over men melts away.
Nations with larger numbers of women in their governing assemblies have tended to do worse in terms of Covid-19 deaths per capita, though they often hold only nominal power.
Researchers looked at 175 countries. Only 16 had a woman in charge, defined as having executive authority and command of the military.
Comparisons took into account factors such as cultural characteristics, whether countries were democracies or dictatorships and assessments of how prepared they had been for a disaster.
Overall, states with female leaders did better in terms of death rates, but the difference was not significant, suggesting this could have been chance.
Leah Windsor, of Memphis University, who led the study, said a country’s cultural values were a far better predictor of how it would fare in a pandemic.
The study found societies that were more egalitarian, more collectivist and more indulgent — a term that factors in things such as having better work-life balance and a happier outlook — tended to have fewer deaths per capita.
The main point of the work, published in the journal PLOS One, was to scrutinise whether the performances of female leaders such as Jacinda Ardern in New Zealand, who has been widely applauded for her management of the pandemic, were part of a broader pattern.
It has been suggested that female leaders share similar qualities: good listening skills, an inclination to seek input and counsel for important decisions, an ability to see the big picture and proficiency in risk management.
The researchers concluded that mediocre women leaders, and very good male ones, have largely been ignored.
Early in the pandemic Belgium, then led by Sophie Wilmès, had a large number of deaths, relative to its population. Vietnam, led by Nguyen Phu Trong, a man, has 97 million people and a border with China, but fewer than 40 deaths.
The study said: “The view that women have been better leaders is . . . based on selective reporting of cases where women have succeeded, and are focused on [relatively rich] countries.”
You can subscribe to The Times here.
Our last general election manifesto is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.