In recent months, research from various parts of the world has revealed that women appear to be more worried than men about the current public health crisis. A recent study from Dartmouth College in the US outlines how women’s underrepresentation in leadership roles may contribute to their concerns being overlooked in workplace decisions.
At the end of August, a Yougov survey carried out in France and the UK, and reported exclusively in France’s Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper, revealed that 64% of French women are worried about catching and spreading the novel coronavirus — 10 percentage points more than men. In March, a Canadian poll also revealed that 49% of women said they felt very worried about the outbreak, compared to 30% of men.
An American study published mid-August in the Politics and Gender journal and carried out by researchers at Dartmouth College (the results of which were updated Thursday, October 8), also found women to be more concerned than men about the consequences of the pandemic.
When surveyed in June, 37% of men polled said, for example, that they would be ready “right now" to return to normal day-to-day activities if there were no government restrictions, compared to just 24% of women.
These results may sound surprising given that currently available medical data suggests that covid-19 is more deadly for men than it is for women, the study authors point out. They go on to suggest that women’s attitudes to covid-19 may be overlooked in workplaces since women are underrepresented in top leadership positions in sectors such as healthcare and education. In fact, according to the study, just 3% of healthcare CEOs and medical division chiefs are women, while women account for 80% of healthcare workers.
Women therefore have less decision-making power over their living conditions and are much more exposed to the effects of the pandemic in their daily lives, notably in the workplace. “Men are less likely to favor precautions for Covid-19 than women, basically across the board," said co-author Deborah Jordan Brooks.
In France, it’s the underrepresentation of women in the media during the pandemic that has caught the attention of the country’s audiovisual media regulator, the Conseil Supérieur de l’Audiovisuel. In its study, published in June, the CSA observed that only 41% of guests invited to speak on TV or radio about the pandemic between March and May were women (in all roles), and, of those, more than 55% were called upon for first-hand accounts (mothers, caregivers, etc) while only 21% were healthcare experts.