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Les dirigeantes gèrent-elle mieux la crise ?

Written by on 17 avril 2020

An article published on Monday in Forbes magazine has been causing a buzz. What do countries with the best coronavirus responses, countries like Finland, Germany, and Taiwan, have in common? Apparently it’s that they all have female leaders.

We asked Barbara Kellerman, professor of public leadership at Harvard, whether women really are better equipped than men to deal with a crisis like the coronavirus pandemic: 

One of the things that comes up all the time in conversations about women and leadership is whether these are the kinds of broad generalisations that we can make. There is probably some vague, general, truth to these broad based definitions, descriptions, or caricatures.

But by and large, I would be quite careful about making them. I think that since we’re talking about a very small sample number, I think it’s better to look at the individual case, as opposed to saying, ‘all women are better leaders, all women are better communicators, all women are better at telling the truth’. That’s probably not a reasonable way of approaching it.

I’ve written a short piece on ‘macho’ leaders. I made the point that the current leaders of Britain and the United States are, with regards to the virus, particularly macho in their presentations. But again, to say that no man would have the collaborative virtues of being honest, and truth-telling, and so forth, and that most women do, that’s probably not a reasonable thing to say across the board.

So gender, a factor worth taking into account, but not the whole picture. One might also argue that of the seven case studies in the Forbes article, five are Northern European countries, with relatively stable, rich economies, and therefore perhaps better equipped to deal with the crisis from the get go. 


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