Crisis, gender role congruency, and perceptions of executive leadership

Academic Paper / Article

January 23, 2023

Crisis, gender role congruency, and perceptions of executive leadership


Politics and gender


At a time of pandemics, international economic downturns, and increasing environmental threats due to climate change, countries around the world are facing numerous crises. What impact might we expect these crises to have on the already common perception that executive leadership is a masculine domain? For years, women executives’ ability to lead has been questioned (Jalalzai 2013). However, the outbreak of COVID-19 brought headlines like CNN’s “Women Leaders Are Doing a Disproportionately Great Job at Handling the Pandemic” (Fincher 2020). Do crises offer women presidents and prime ministers opportunities to be perceived as competent leaders? Or do they prime masculinized leadership expectations and reinforce common conceptions that women are unfit to lead? We maintain that people’s perceptions of crisis leadership will depend on whether the crisis creates role (in)congruity between traditional gender norms and the leadership expectations generated by the particular crisis.

Click here to access the paper.

Resource type: 
Louise K. Davidson-Schmich, Farida Jalalzai and Malliga Och
Politics & Gender, Cambridge University Press
Publication year: 
12 January 2023
Focus areas: