The mens predominate in 85% of decision-making bodies and advise on the fight against coronavirus in the world, according to a study published this Thursday by the journal “BMJ Global Health”.

That gender distribution has become a “disturbingly accepted pattern in global health governance”, warn the authors of the work, from various international academic centers.

The study ensures that this bias may “undermine the effectiveness of the pandemic response and ultimately cost lives“, underlines a statement from the scientific journal.

Although steps have been taken in recent years to move towards more gender-balanced health governance, COVID-19 took “the world by storm”, leading to “quickly train many advisory groups and expert panels“, the authors note.

Gender imbalance

To determine the proportion of men and women in these decision-making bodies, those responsible for the study, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, analyzed data from 87 countries.

In total, they took into account 115 expert groups and decision-making bodies on the coronavirus. In 85% of them there were more men than women, 11.5% had more women than men, and 3.5% had parity between both genders.

“Bias can undermine the effectiveness of the pandemic response and ultimately cost lives”

At the same time, 81% of the analyzed organizations were led by a man.

The work points out that the proportion of women is usually higher in advisory groups and lower in bodies with executive power, something that “probably reflects potential social biases and gender stereotypes about leadership,” according to the authors.

In the United States, for example, women represent only 9% of the White House task force about the coronavirus, but they are 82.5% on the pandemic response team at the national health agency.

Future changes

Those responsible for the study emphasize the need for decision-making bodies on health crises there is a balance in terms of “gender, ethnicity, race and culture” of its members.

They also claim stop using “emergency scenarios” as justification to “set aside transparency in the name of health security.”

“Reach a critical mass of women in leadership positions, even as a result of an intentional selection or quotas, it benefits the governance processes “, maintain those responsible for the study.