It has been noted that nations handling the Covid19 pandemic the most effectively are often led by women eg New Zealand, Germany, Norway, Taiwan and Denmark. And lots of my friends have gleefully reported this fact on facebook posts to signal that here is proof that women are better than men!
Is the link between effective handling of the crisis and women in power, more than a coincidence?
Forbes magazine reported last month that, “cultures that see leadership as less masculine may not just be more likely to have women in charge, but also more likely to act in empathetic, collectivistic, altruistic, and risk-averse ways, all of which reduce the damage of a contagious virus.”
Of course, it’s not wise to give ALL the credit to the female leadership of nations like New Zealand, but it is interesting to explore why it is so important to have the perspectives of women and men in any crisis.
Women are more cautious or rational (!) making decisions about all sorts of things from finances to driving – at the political level there is less military language from female leaders and more talk of protecting, and more concern about families at home. The only Cabinet minister in the UK to speak about domestic violence in lockdown is a woman, Priti Patel.
Women listen differently – Men listen so they can solve a particular problem (transactional) while women want to gather all of the details and tend to ask more questions before making a decision. Women typically are seen as better listeners, more open to expert advice and more empathetic to people’s needs, not afraid to make hard economic choices to protect lives.
Women talk more than men. Women use about 20,000 words in a given day compared to only 7,000 words for the average man. This means women are seen as more relational and that affects the way their decisions are accepted and understood. Surely in a time when we need to trust our leaders, it would be a good idea to have female explanations as well as Alpha male talk.
Men are more confident in making decisions but are they the right decisions? Women dig out details but does that make them too cautious in a crisis?
If both men and women are in the room, equally valued and respected, despite differences in approach, the solutions they devise on saving lives and saving the economy MUST be better for all.
Statistics taken from Huff Post, Dec 6th, 2017; and Forbes Magazine, April 10th, 2020