Proactive policy helps women leaders contain Covid-19 better than men

Covid 19 Restriction Worsened Mental health

The differences in risk aversion and leadership are attributed to the better Coronavirus outcome in countries led by women. It is also explained that the proactive policy responses the women leaders adopted had led a big way in containing the deadly virus in their countries.

It is already a known fact that countries having women leadership fared better than countries which had a male leadership. In its new study, the World Economic Forum said that differences in risk aversion and leadership had given the women leaders an edge over male leaders.

The Forum mentioned that New Zealand was declared virus-free on June 8. However, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern lifted all restrictions except stringent border controls. With fewer than 500 confirmed cases and seven deaths from the virus, Taiwan under the presidency of Tsai Ing-wen, is seen to have performed very well, the WEF said.

It also mentioned that Germany under Angela Merkel had done better than most European countries in the first quarter of the COVID pandemic. “The performance of these female leaders in the COVID pandemic offers a unique global experiment in national crisis management and has given rise to much media attention. This is a significant shift from the male-dominated view of history within which events are typically considered as determined by the instrumental and causal influence of a small number of ‘Great Men’,” the forum said.

It said that female led countries have fared better in terms of number of COVID-19 cases and deaths, with male-led countries having nearly double the number of deaths as female-led ones. One of the main reasons attributed to this was the timing of lockdown, which had been better in women led countries. The Female-led countries locked down significantly earlier, the Forum said.



One of the reasons attributed to the better performance of women led countries is the risk aversion factor. “One explanation for gender-differences in the propensity to lock down early might be found in the literature on attitudes to risk and uncertainty, which suggests that women, even those in leadership roles, appear to be more risk-averse than men,” the Forum said.

It also mentioned several instances of risky behaviour by male leaders. Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro’s dismissal of COVID-19 as “a little flu or a bit of a cold” while attending an anti-lockdown protest in April and Britain’s Boris Johnson’s reported statement that he shook hands with everybody when he was at a hospital  show the risky behaviour of male leaders.

The study said that women leaders were risk averse with regard to lives. They were also prepared to take significant risks with their economies by locking down early. “Thus, risk aversion may manifest differently in different domains – human life versus economic outcomes – with women leaders being significantly more risk averse in the domain of human life, but more risk taking in the domain of the economy,” the Forum said.

It also said that there existed quantitative gender differences in the basic networks involved in affective and cognitive forms of empathy as well as a qualitative divergence between the sexes in how emotional information is integrated to support decision making processes.  “When combined with the findings from the risk literature, we begin to see how women leaders could have been risk-averse about anticipated losses to human life, while at the same time taking risk with negative financial outcomes associated with early lockdown,” the Forum said.


Referring to Eagly and Johnson (1990) analysis, the World Economic Forum said that leadership styles were gender stereotypic, with men likely to lead in a ‘task-oriented’ style and women in an ‘interpersonally oriented’ manner. “Consistent with this finding, women tended to adopt a more democratic and participative style. Indeed, the decisive and clear communication styles adopted by several female leaders have received much praise in the ongoing crisis,” they said.

The Forum pointed out to Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg’s direct conversation to children answering their questions. It also said that New Zealand Prime Minster Ardern was praised for the way in which she communicated and for checking in with her citizens through Facebook Live.


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