Ann or Peter? Gender Stereotypes and Leadership during a Pandemic Crisis  /

Ann or Peter? Gender Stereotypes and Leadership during a Pandemic Crisis

Contributors:
  1. Justyna Dabrowska

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Description: The COVID-19 pandemic poses new challenges for leaders. It requires massive behav-ior change and self-compliance of the public. Stereotypically feminine qualities such as compassion and good approach to people may help achieve such goals, thus ren-dering this pandemic as a "feminine crisis". The special nature of this crisis, as well as the saliency in the media of female-led countries successfully managing the pan-demic, raises the question whether female leaders will be perceived as more compe-tent to manage such a crisis? Using an experimental study, we assess whether female prime minister candidates, or candidates with feminine traits, are advantaged when their competence to manage a large-scale pandemic is assessed. We find that contra-ry to a national security, as well as an economic crisis, where male or masculine can-didates are advantaged, women, or feminine candidates, have no advantage in man-aging a COVID-19 type crisis. Furthermore, conservative participants seem to per-ceive male candidates as more competent, even in the pandemic context. All differ-ences are small in magnitude, and yet suggest that even in a potentially feminine crisis women do not fare better than men, whereas men still fare better in typically male crisis such as national security. Therefore, even in the 21st century, gender still cannot be considered irrelevant for political leadership.

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