Would more women leaders make for better pandemic decisions?
First of all, as a man I should admit that Russia is still a men’s land. It is not because Russia is ruled by men only. It is simply not: we have enough of women’s representation in power. For instance, several important government bodies, including Russia’s Higher Chamber of parliament, National health ministry and the Bank of Russia, are headed by women.
Moreover, Russia’s Chief Sanitary officer, who is directly dealing with the COVID-19 crisis, is a woman.
But the thing is… Have you ever noticed how Russian women tend to look? Yep, they, in general, with some exceptions, look brighter, often use eye-catching make-up; overall, they try to have sexier looks than Western women.
Sure, men love it when women look like that. I do, too. It doesn’t distract my attention from the fact that such ‘bright looks’ are just the outcome that women in Russia tend to depend more on men then on themselves. It is not a general rule but even when you see a business-women or another financially successful and independent woman, she would, in most of cases, try to look as bright and sexy as possible.
It is just a cultural issue.
So when we have enough women in power in Russia, we’re still living here in a world ruled by men. Honestly, to me, I wouldn’t pick anybody based on his/her gender. Why should I prefer a woman over a man if she, to me, looks less effective?
Now back to the COVID-19 crisis.
As we now have a Health minister and a Chief Sanitary officer as women, I don’t really believe that if a woman would rule Russia, the handling of the current crisis would’ve been very different from what we see now (which is NOT very successful). It is a political system, not gender issue, that is the defining factor.
If you’re already a part of the system, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman.
To make a long story short: IMHO, in Russia, women wouldn’t handle the current pandemic crisis better than men.
Mette Frederiksen –
Better Pandemic Decisions?
So hear is a quick question to start this off – the following countries share at least two commonalities. What are they? Denmark, Germany, Iceland, Finland, Taiwan and New Zealand.
Got it? Yes, they appear to be doing a magnificent job in dealing with what is a global crisis in their own backyard. Oh yes, and their leaders are all women. They’ve shown clarity and communication, decisiveness, and a great deal of compassion. Is this solely because they are women? Are they simply better than men in their approach to a pandemic?
To help get a better understanding of the difference in my country’s approach, led by a buffoon, sorry, a man, I’ve compared it to that of Denmark, led by a lady who just happens to be the youngest ever Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen.
Thanks to my younger son Kristian, who has made his life in Copenhagen, I can get a gist of how the Danes have taken to her path of dealing with the pandemic.
He tells me Fredrikson has been widely praised for the directness and clarity of her press briefings. She delivers information and makes decisions with zero waffle. Maybe a bit of padding, he says, just to make it more human, but not changing the context of anything.
She has shown great decisiveness, particularly the early lockdown in Denmark. That’s before there were any deaths. Italy had only imposed its own lockdown three days earlier. No other E.U. country had, not even Spain and France, who took three and six days longer respectively. Remember there was no certainty at that point that it would be such a huge pandemic.
Empathy and compassion are also not in short supply. The first thing that stuck to Kristian’s mind was a press video conference she hosted for children early in the lockdown. She didn’t use baby language, just answered their questions honestly and with great warmth and rapport. She continues to talk sympathetically about the need for the older and more vulnerable to isolate further, in order to allow youngsters and the economy more freedom, but she doesn’t sugar-coat it so it sounds insincere.
Overall, Kristian says, it has never felt like she was out of her depth at any time, despite only being elected a few months ago. And Denmark has now had, for some time, a clear timeline when everything will re-open, which they are actually bringing forward due to the infection rate staying slower than expected after the first reopening phase. And that’s despite the youngsters already back in education for some time.
Most of you are probably fed up with me for decrying Boris and his Tory la-di-da cronies, but in every category, clarity, decisiveness, empathy and compassion, Mette Frederiksen wins hands down over him. Just one example – decisiveness. Remember Boris telling us about social distancing in the early days? “I say old chaps, would you mind awfully if maybe you didn’t all get together this weekend – if you could maybe think about maybe staying at home, that would be jolly decent of you..”
But this isn’t just about decision-making. This is also about taking your country with you, and ensuring your people have the trust and confidence that they are being led in the best way possible against the bitter enemy.
Does that mean that women are better than men in dealing with the pandemic? Of course not. But whilst there is no doubt that handling this crisis is anything but straightforward, there is still a huge skillset that is necessary to make the right decisions at the right time. Maybe it’s because these, admittedly exceptional, women leaders are not bogged down in egotistical dogma, not swayed by partisan politics or keeping in pole position in the popularity stakes, but just naturally believing what they are doing is right, proper, and most importantly, effective. And knowing what the truth is.
It does seem at this time, with admittedly a long way to go, that several women leaders are making a huge difference already. Time will tell whether that’s because they are simply very good at what they do, just plain lucky, or, a worse-case scenario for them, actually no better than the blokes.
It’s sad that we can write on this particular subject in this day & time. However, huge progress has been made and women leaders are far more common in governments around the world today.
In my country a woman won the last Presidential election by about three million votes. The person who came in second is now in the White House. There is another election coming-up in November and the poll leading candidate swears he will have a female Vice President. So it seems only a matter of time before the US has a woman behind the UK’s Resolute Desk in the Oval Office.
I’m sure my friends have told you about how much better women leaders have done during the Covid-19 crisis so I’ll not bore you. But why? Why are female leaders doing better than their male counterparts right now?
While preparing this article I read something that just jumped out at me: “These women leaders are able to bring others around to their point of view… because they genuinely understand and care about where others are coming from… so that the people they are leading feel more understood, supported and valued.”
What struck me was the implied concept that women emphasize and men don’t. I have read several times that Donald Trump has failed to express condolences to families who have lost loved ones. Indeed, far from expressing sadness at the loss, he has made it clear that the US will open before the Doctors say it’s time and he says there will be losses. However, the cure is worse than the disease and we cannot allow the economy to just implode.
This may sound counter intuitive, but it may well be that female leaders are stronger. I recall Maggie Thatcher telling Ronald Reagan not to get “wobbly kneed”. In my book, Thatcher was a total bad-ass.
The female leaders are the ones saying there will be a lockdown and we are going to lay a total beat down on this virus. The strong leaders, like Trump & Putin, are the ones trying to fudge the numbers to make it look better.
My concern with the weak approach to this particular problem is that, after the election in the US, whoever wins will be forced to say that three thousand dead per day (the current projection) is too high a number, so the US must go back into an economy-killing lockdown. That’s twice because we didn’t do it right the first time. I’m wrong, often, but that’s my fear.