I remember when Justin Trudeau was elected Prime Minister of Canada and announced that half of his cabinet would be female — the initial response was shocked (and from some of us awe!).
When a reporter asked him “why?” his response was short and simple “Because it’s 2015.”
That wasn’t the first time I thought about moving to Canada and it wouldn’t be the last.
Now, it’s five years later and as I watch the news unfold amid the Coronavirus pandemic every press conference reminds me of how few women we have in leadership roles.
And I can’t help but ask if the lack of diversity has contributed to the United States’ slow response to this outbreak?
Here are a few ways more gender equality among decision makers could strengthen our country:
Women Are More Risk Aware
Numerous studies have shown that as a result of socialization women are more risk aware than men. And while we often examine the downsides it’s helpful to remember the positive outcomes as well — we make fewer mistakes and course correct from errors much faster.
When women are present in leadership panels their intuition encourages active debate and ensures potential downsides are openly discussed.
Women Can Handle 50 Shades of Grey
Women’s tendencies towards holistic thinking make us naturally more adept at dealing with complex situations and maintaining strong decision making skills.
Research has shown that we utilize multiple regions of the brain when making decisions, men only utilize a single region and tend to shut down amid a myriad of choices. This ultimately means we’re better at dealing with situations that have a multitude of factors and a vast array of grey area.
Women Forecast Further Into the Future
When this crisis began we often heard President Trump speak in a way that downplayed the risks and tried to offer reassurance to our financial markets. In the world of business and finance if you want to grow quickly that often requires overly optimistic projections and assuming more risk in the present. These types of decisions are geared to generate large short-term gains without much consideration for long-term growth. It’s a manly approach.
However, during a global health crisis it’s important that people are able to rely on the information they receive from their leaders. It ensures that when leadership requests things — like, please stay home — people trust the information they receive and are more likely to listen.
I’m not suggesting this was a misinformation campaign and it’s entirely possible they really believed what they were saying as risk was more greatly dispersed at the onset of this outbreak. However, more diversity in the room would likely have yielded a different perspective that if heeded would have made this crisis much less severe.