Are women leaders really doing better on coronavirus? The data backs it up

Editorial / Opinion Piece / Blog Post

September 9, 2020

Are women leaders really doing better on coronavirus? The data backs it up


Over the last few months, there has been much discussion of leadership during the pandemic. What constitutes good leadership? Who has performed better and which countries have been worse? One pattern that emerged early on was that female leaders were seen to have handled the crisis remarkably well. Whether it has been New Zealand under Jacinda Ardern or Taiwan under the presidency of Tsai Ing-Wen or Germany under Angela Merkel, female-led countries have been held up as examples of how to manage a pandemic.

We decided to investigate whether this anecdotal perception stands up to more systematic scrutiny. To do this, we analysed how leaders around the world reacted to the early days of the pandemic to see whether differences in performance can be explained by differences in policy measures adopted by male and female leaders.

Two qualifications need to be kept in mind: first, we are only at the start of the pandemic and much could change in the next few months. Second, the quality of data currently available is limited. Inadequate testing means that case numbers are probably an underestimate. The way deaths are registered also varies across countries.

Click here to read the full article published by We Forum on 3 September 2020.

Focus areas: 
UN Women