News Article

BUSINESS NEWS-'Female leaders have done better than men'

Posted 29th May 2020 • Written by •

The coronavirus crisis has shone a significant light on leadership, which has left many comparing the way in which female and male leaders have led during this uncertain time.

Due to the actions of female leaders in New Zealand, Germany, Denmark and Finland to name a few, it has been suggested that women have proved better leaders throughout the coronavirus, with many citing the low number of deaths in countries led by female leaders as a clear indication.

For example, New Zealand, which is run by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, has been considered a global success story as the country has experienced 21 deaths as a result of coronavirus. Similarly, Germany, whose Chancellor is Angela Merkel, has suffered 8,498 deaths.

This is compared to the United Kingdom which has reported 37,048 deaths and the US which has over 100K, both of which are headed up by male leaders including Boris Johnson and Donald Trump. Therefore, could these damaging figures indicate that female leaders are better than their male counterparts?

‘Indisputably better’

Back in 2019, former US president Barack Obama claimed that while women aren’t perfect, they are ‘indisputably better’ than men, reports the BBC. He added that most problems in the world came from older people, mostly men, who hold on to positions of power.

Last year, Harvard Business Review (HBR) also updated some research it carried out in 2012 taking a look at female leadership. Looking at its database of 360-degree reviews in which it asked individuals to rate each leader’s effectiveness and to judge how strong they are on specific competencies revealed that women in leadership roles are perceived as, if not more, competent than male leaders.

According to analysis of the thousands of 360-degree reviews, HBR found that women outscored men on 17 of the 19 capabilities that differentiate excellent leaders from average ones. For example, when it comes to taking initiative, women scored 55.6% while men scored 48.2%. when it comes to building relationships, women also fared better with 53.2% compared to 49.9% for men.

Leading in a crisis

When it comes to leadership during a crisis, in particular the coronavirus pandemic, many believe that female leaders have performed better. This is a notion supported by former New Zealand PM Helen Clark. Speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain yesterday she claimed that on average female leaders have performed better in responding to the pandemic.

She explained: “The point I have made is that I believe on average the female leaders have actually done rather better than the men. That’s not to say there are men leaders who haven’t done well, for example, the President of the Republic of Korea has done extremely well.

"But the women have been seen to be consultative, engaged, taking the populations with them, listening to and acting on advice and being empathetic, and I think that’s counted a lot in the very good responses many of them have had,” she added.

Journalist Rachel Johnson also agreed that female leaders have performed better during this time adding that it was because many have chosen not to use the situation in a party political way. During the programme she said: “There is a perception that women are doing better because they are not using this in a party political way.” 

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