Assuming that assessing the good management of an administration based on the gender of its leader is as sterile and even counterproductive as doing it based on physical features or skin color, it is worth wondering if political leaders are doing so better than their male counterparts .
And it is worth asking because it is a question that has been invoked crushingly from certain media pulpits . The quick answer is: no .
Question of sex?
There are many who are bringing up the fact that a political leader has two X chromosomes in each of his cells instead of one X and the other Y to show his excellence in the management of COVID-19.
It has probably been brought up with all the good intentions (it is good to recognize the merits of women in areas where they may not have as much social representation). In other words, the sex of the leaders has been invoked because it benefits women . If it were an area where man performed better, then it would be politically incorrect to bring it up.
The problem with this strategy, in this case, is twofold. First of all, if we value people based on their gender, then we can approach a slippery slope of the type: why not do it based on their skin color or their height or their age? Why not do it based on your beauty? Césare Lombroso would be happy to measure the competence of politicians based on their facial features. A racist could argue that the best European leaders are white and not black. Do bald men do better than their hairy counterparts? And what about those who study science versus letters? Does it matter if you come from a wealthy family? Are vegetarians better?
The second problem is that, if, in addition, the statement is false and you rely on it to raise the professional status of women in an area where they are supposedly underrepresented, then you are achieving just the opposite: you offer weapons to the machistas .
Because statistically, female managers are not doing better than male managers.
If lower death rates are the end goal of today’s leaders, then statistically, female leaders are doing no better than their male counterparts . For EU countries, the average death rate per capita in countries led by women is not statistically different from the average death rate in countries led by men.
In the United States, there is also no significant difference between the average per capita death rates for states with female governors and those with male governors.
In other words, women are not doing statistically better than their male counterparts in reducing the number of deaths.
To be sure, death rates depend on many variables, including population density, access to healthcare, reporting protocols, and possibly temperature and humidity levels … making it difficult to isolate the impact of sex of the leader. That is to say, simply entering to assess whether a leader does better or worse is a thorny issue ; But doing it according to your sex is the double somersault.
It is true that the management of the German Angela Merkel is being worthy of consideration for many reasons. But so is Belgium, also headed by a woman, has the grim distinction of having the highest per capita death rate in the EU, and the second highest in the world.
In other words: it is important to value women who do well. And to men. It is important that our assessment does not tend to be rude by grouping people by categories (sex, race, religion, etc.). And, above all, it is important that if we are going to use this form of claim, we do it with real data.
But there are sexual differences
As a corollary : naturally, from all this it should not be inferred that men and women rule exactly the same. Sex is likely to influence the style of managing a country as it also influences many other areas of our life. There are differences between men and women (as there are between men and women themselves).
Alice Eagly , emeritus professor of psychology at Northwestern University, has investigated gender differences in leadership style by aggregating all available studies on the topic and completing a meta-analysis or study of studies on it. One of the strongest differences is that it appears that women tend towards participatory and relational leadership, and that men tend towards more autocratic and top-down leadership.
However, the fact that there are sexual differences when governing should not necessarily mean that one sex does better than the other. That will depend on the crisis to be faced, or the type of country to be governed, and a myriad of other interrelated factors. Because the very concept of "sex", when it comes to a management analysis, is philosophically lysological .
Should we eventually find a series of characteristics that make a ruler generally better than average, we should look for those characteristics in the future rulers that we democratically choose. Characteristics that we can probably find in women, men, blacks, highs, lows, rich or poor. That is why it is to emphasize that gender differences are just generalizations, and they certainly do not apply to all women or all men. Each leader must be evaluated on their own strengths and weaknesses, and not on their gender .