Is the pandemic an opportunity to open our eyes as a society towards gender equality?
Is the pandemic an opportunity to open our eyes as a society towards gender equality?.
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected our lives in terms of health, society, and economy. Fortunately, there is an optimistic point of view that sees the forest despite the trees, which states that this may also be an opportunity for humanity to accelerate the process towards gender equality. In this case, and emphasizing how the virus's effect on male and female individuals has impacted different scales, professionals have set their aim on the female capacity of impulse economic recovery.
How Has the Pandemic Affected Female Gender?
Although the pandemic has no proven gender differentiation regarding health issues between male and female individuals, evidence of psychological, social, and economic effects has been discovered. In a study led by scientists at USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences' Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR), the disparity between men and women in terms of household and childcare has been discovered to still be of common custom. With a statistic of one-third of working women in two-parent homes still having to provide care to their children while also being responsible for their compromised jobs, distress is an obvious result. This, compared to the one-tenth of working fathers, is enough proof of the still-to-be-achieved goal of gender equality.
When narrowing our vision to solely economic affairs -although it is clear that this aspect inevitably brings along other consequences-, the pandemic has had a significant impact on industries that women mostly conduct. Tourism, including both traveling and hospitality, schools and childcare centers, and restaurants, have been in the eye of the COVID-19 hurricane for months. Some of them are still under evaluation of a complete re-opening; the lasting economic effect includes salary cuts, suspensions, and job losses worldwide.
The Role of Female Leadership Throughout the Pandemic
When evaluating the response of influential people worldwide to the COVID-19 pandemic, we also find differences in terms of gender—taking female-led countries like Germany, Taiwan, and New Zealand. An analysis that opposed them to economically, socially, and demographically similar countries led by men threw many points to consider. This study had the early and mid-pandemic days up to mid-May as a reference -the first quarter of the health crisis-. Decisions were made, and their evidential results were put under the scope.
The early lock-down decision took by most of the countries led by women resulted in a substantial difference regarding cases and deaths due to the virus. For example, Hong-Kong recorded 1,056 cases and four deaths, whereas Singapore had 28,794 cases, 22 of which were terminal. Moreover, Taiwan and South Korea also shared this characteristic. The first one, female-led, recorded 440 cases and seven deaths, while the latter had 11,078 cases, 263 resulting in death.
Different theories try to explain this peculiar difference. One of them suggests that women are more risk-averse, both towards health and economic issues. This theory is sustained because, contrary to male peers as Jair Bolsonaro (Brazil) and Boris Johnson (UK), female leaders have not made any unfortunate statements regarding the COVID-19 threat. Ironically, and just as an informational piece, both mentioned men contracted the virus. A second theory explains that female leadership is more oriented to humanitarian affairs, whereas men tend to lead in a task-oriented manner. This makes women more inclined to a democratic point of view, this without stopping them from putting one's foot down when necessary.
These facts result in the belief that female leadership, given their criteria when faced with crucial decision-making situations, react in a more beneficial way towards their people's health and financial safety. Thus, female-led countries are ensuring a more vertical recovery process than those led by men. This, then, leaves us with the following question: If it works for a monster-like obligation as it is running a country, why not think it could also work for something smaller, such as an industry? Is this our opportunity to see that female leadership must be taken more into account?