Countries led by women have been “systematically and significantly better” in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, according to an analysis by the University of Liverpool.
The study, published on Elsevier’s Social Science Research Network pre-print library, examined the difference by gender of the national leader in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in the first quarter of the pandemic across 194 countries.
The analysis revealed that COVID-19-outcomes have been systematically better in the countries led by women and, to some extent, this may be explained by the proactive and coordinated policy responses adopted by them. Even when outliers like New Zealand and Germany - and the USA for male leaders - were removed from the statistics, the case for the relative success of female leaders was only strengthened.
University of Liverpool Management School Developmental Economist, Professor Supriya Garikipati and her colleague at the University of Reading, Professor Uma Kambhampati analysed differing policy responses and subsequent total COVID-19 cases and deaths across 194 countries for the first quarter of the pandemic, up to 19 May 2020.
Co-author, Professor Supriya Garikipati, University of Liverpool Management School Developmental Economist, said: “Our results above clearly indicate that women leaders reacted more quickly and decisively in the face of potential fatalities. In almost all cases, they locked down earlier than male leaders in similar circumstances."
“While this may have longer-term economic implications, it has certainly helped these countries to save lives, as evidenced by the significantly lower number of deaths in these countries.”
"The gender of leadership could well have been key in the current context where attitudes to risk and empathy mattered as did clear and decisive communications,” the authors conclude.
They acknowledge that many of these factors will need to be considered in the months and years ahead as the outcomes of the pandemic mature and the effects on the economy become apparent across the countries.
As an exception during this period of health crisis, some of the publications mentioned are at the time of writing still in pre-publication, undergoing peer review and subject to change. The results of this pre-print study should be interpreted with utmost caution.