The claim that female leaders are better at fighting the novel coronavirus has overtaken the Internet.
For pundits and even some economists, the connection seems obvious. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern led her country through 102 days without any new cases, while President Trump still denies public health concerns and promotes controversial therapies.
But it’s not so simple. We find no consistent relationship between gender and pandemic outcomes. That’s because not all female leaders have the same policy powers — and because containing the virus requires action on several fronts, from public health to the economy. Female leadership matters for the pandemic, but not always in ways you might expect.