Women and power: another way to govern?

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The Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern, who will foreseeably be re-elected this Saturday in the elections that are held in the oceanic country, is part of the latest batch of political women at the head government headquarters. They are between 34 and 44 years old and, in addition to their youth, they have in common their ideology of left. In that group are also Katrín Jakobsdóttir (44 years old, Iceland), Mette Frederiksen (43 years old, Denmark) and Sanna Marin (34, Finland), in addition to the small number of women leaders from the rest of the world headed by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel. According to United Nations data, of the 194 countries on the globe, only 21 are led by women.

Is it the start of a new trend? Tania Verge, political scientist and professor at Pompeu Fabra University, puts it in doubt. From 1990 to the present day, “there is a stable figure of about 20 women world leaders, combining presidents and prime ministers,” she underlines before highlighting that the fact that several of them are now younger, “is a coincidence“.” That the number of women heads of state and government has stagnated is not surprising. Ours continues to be a patriarchal society “, highlights Miquel Domènech, professor of Social Psychology at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Ardern, Jakobsdóttir, Frederiksen and Marin have stood out for their management of the covid-19, both for the speed in the application of measures to stop contagions and for its communication policy, with messages away from those more in the key of “war against virus“expressed by their male colleagues. In this they coincide with the most veteran leaders, such as Merkel, the Taiwanese Tsai Ing-wen or the norway Erna Solberg. “These leaders seem to have understood that without health there will be no economy, and that vision can have something of a 360º, peripheral, integral, more feminine vision “, says the political scientist and consultant Verónica Fumanal. Domènech abounds in this idea:” It is very different to approach the management of the pandemic as if it were going to war and focus messages on rhetoric and military slogans rather than from the logic of care “.

Better in crises?

An article published in full impact of the first wave of the pandemic in the magazine ‘Forbes’ suggested that being a woman implied better crisis management such as that of covid-19. Sociologist Marina Subirats is cautious about this statement. “The fact of having ovaries does not predispose us to do politics in a different way (& mldr;), but it is the education that we women have received for centuries the one that makes us preserving life first “, he emphasizes. According to Verge, the number of prime ministers is so small that no conclusion can be drawn in this regard.” To a great extent these statements are based on social stereotypes of what is expected of each of the genres. Studies that have been carried out more systematically do not find a relationship between the gender of the head of State or Government and the mortality rates of the population, “he adds.

The UPF professor points to two factors that may have contributed to the success of these leaders: that they lead countries with a Effective and efficient government and that, because they are women, they have had to pass filters and demands that are higher than those of male politicians. Although Fumanal warns that despite overcoming more obstacles, “not all are examples“:” There are women with very bad indicators, such as Isabel Diaz Ayuso“.

Subirats agrees: “That women have to overcome more filters does not mean that the best reach positions of responsibility, but the ones that adapt better to the androcentric model that dominates politics. “In fact, many of the female leaders adopt a masculine pattern (more assertive and aggressive) that even affects the way they dress. However, the sociologist and former councilor of the Barcelona City Council highlights that in the prime ministers of the Nordic countries do appreciate a different way of doing politics than that of men, with “a less competitive style“, less “androcentric“.

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