Women Leaders and Policy Compliance during a Public Health Crisis

Nichole M. Bauer, Jeong Hyun Kim, Yesola Kweon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


How does the gender of a political leader affect policy compliance of the public during a public health crisis? State and national leaders have taken a variety of policy measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, with varying levels of success. While many female leaders have been credited with containing the spread of COVID-19, often through implementing strict policy measures, there is little understanding of how individuals respond to public health policy recommendations made by female and male leaders. This article investigates whether citizens are more willing to comply with strict policy recommendations about a public health issue when those recommendations are made by a female leader rather than a male leader. Using a survey experiment with American citizens, we compare individuals' willingness to comply with policy along three dimensions: social distancing, face covering, and contact tracing. Our findings show that a leader's gender has little impact on policy compliance in general during the pandemic. These findings carry important implications for successful crisis management as well as understanding how a crisis in a nonmasculine issue context influences the effectiveness of a leader's ability to implement measures to mitigate the crisis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)975-982
Number of pages8
JournalPolitics and Gender
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Dec

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 The Author(s). Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of The Women and Politics Research Section of theAmerican Political Science Association.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Sociology and Political Science


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