Author Topic: Are Women Better at Leading Diverse Countries Than Men?  (Read 218 times)

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Offline Goddess

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Are Women Better at Leading Diverse Countries Than Men?
« on: February 13, 2019, 11:12:06 am »
https://hbr.org/2019/02/research-are-women-better-at-leading-diverse-countries-than-men

The answer is Yes, according some new studies and research by the Harvard Business Review.

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Research has shown that, on average, racial/ethnic diversity within a country is negatively correlated with its overall economic growth (GDP). Racial biases, discrimination, and conflicts between ethnic groups, when left unmitigated, can stunt economic growth. We had a hunch that this is exactly where female leadership would be most helpful.
To test this idea, we studied data from 188 of the 193 United Nations–recognized countries. Our research examined leaders in modern history (1950–2004) to find out whether economic outcomes differed for female and male leaders depending on the racial/ethnic composition of the country.

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Consistent with our hunch, our most striking finding was about the times when women led very diverse countries rather than men. In these contexts, female leaders were significantly more likely than male leaders to have fast-growing economies. In particular, the countries in the highest quartile of racial/ethnic diversity benefited the most. When led by a woman, they had an average of 5.4% GDP growth in the subsequent year, as compared with their male counterparts’ 1.1%. Our quantitative analysis suggests that it is possible for countries and their economies to benefit from diversity instead of suffering from its challenges, which include intergroup conflicts, discrimination, and biases toward marginalized groups.

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The important takeaway here is that female leaders are associated with economic outcomes that suggest that they may be better able to unlock the benefits of diversity at the country level than their male counterparts.

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Given what our research has found, and the research on how having women in leadership roles benefits a company’s bottom line, it is clear that companies and countries should make it a priority to identify and promote talented women. Besides being the right thing to do for equality of opportunity and equity in pay, advancing women can also, as we’ve found, have tangible financial benefits.
Leaders must focus on better economic outcomes for everyone, not just gains for some groups over others. One lesson we learned from our research is that when the downsides of diversity — festering biases, discrimination, and racial/ethnic conflicts — are left unmanaged, they are associated with stunted economic growth. No company can afford to be a competitive laggard when it comes to developing all their employees, just as a country cannot maximize its growth if large parts of its populace are left out of the economy. Leveraging the diversity in your organization requires inclusive leadership that aligns strategy, culture, hiring and promotion practices, and more. It’s time to stop imagining what could be and to do the work required for an inclusive future that can benefit us all.

I don't see this as "slamming men".  I hope none of you do either.

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Offline Spectre of Graham

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I'd think it might be hard to get a good sample size of women leading countries?  Compared to men at least, now and historically.

Interesting theory though.
Good medicine turns poisonous when the dose is too high.

Offline TimG

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I think the leadership is less important than the culture of the country. i.e. countries with a culture that make it possible for women to fill these top posts are going to do better.

That is the trouble with these kinds of studies. It is impossible to know the direction of the causal relationship even if one actually exists.

i.e. a researcher with a predetermined view on what answer they wanted could sift through all of the economic data available and look for those statistics that show the desired correlation while ignoring those that don't. They would then write rationalizations for why the metrics chosen are valid. That is why these kinds of studies should never be taken seriously especially if they seem to confirm what you would like to believe (and yes I take my own advice).

Offline Omni

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The more I listen to Klobuchar the more I hope she takes over the WH next election.

Offline Granny

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I'd think it might be hard to get a good sample size of women leading countries?  Compared to men at least, now and historically.

Interesting theory though.
From my read of their paper in the Harvard Business Review link posted, it looks like they've done a very thorough job.

Research has shown that, on average, racial/ethnic diversity within a country is negatively correlated with its overall economic growth (GDP). Racial biases, discrimination, and conflicts between ethnic groups, when left unmitigated, can stunt economic growth. We had a hunch that this is exactly where female leadership would be most helpful.

To test this idea, we studied data from 188 of the 193 United Nations–recognized countries. Our research examined leaders in modern history (1950–2004) to find out whether economic outcomes differed for female and male leaders depending on the racial/ethnic composition of the country.
Consistent with our hunch, our most striking finding was about the times when women led very diverse countries rather than men. In these contexts, female leaders were significantly more likely than male leaders to have fast-growing economies. In particular, the countries in the highest quartile of racial/ethnic diversity benefited the most. When led by a woman, they had an average of 5.4% GDP growth in the subsequent year, as compared with their male counterparts’ 1.1%. Our quantitative analysis suggests that it is possible for countries and their economies to benefit from diversity instead of suffering from its challenges, which include intergroup conflicts, discrimination, and biases toward marginalized groups.


I think this quote re Liberia is particularly revealing:

At the beginning of her second term, President Johnson Sirleaf reconstituted her cabinet further to reflect the age, gender, religion, and ethnicity ranges in the country. These strategies based on representative diversity were associated with an average annual 4% GDP growth rate in her first five years in office (2006–2010), as compared with the 1% growth of her predecessor, President Charles Taylor, in his last five years (1999–2003). Her agenda differed from her male predecessors’, particularly that of former President Samuel Doe (1986–1990), who was known for favoring his ethnic group, the Krahns, which ultimately sparked a rebellion against him. Her male counterparts’ agendas were not about the unification of the country’s various groups, but instead were about grabbing resources for their favored group.

Women serve their people and their country..
Men serve themselves and their cronies.
Too harsh?
Let me put it another way: Men serve and maintain the patriarchal crony system. Women have no allegiance nor subservience to the patriarchal system.
GDP seems to like it.

Offline Spectre of Graham

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From my read of their paper in the Harvard Business Review link posted, it looks like they've done a very thorough job.

It's an interesting theory and the evidence shows that it is promising to explore further the differences and outcomes of male vs female leaders, especially in these diverse countries and often developing economies. I skimmed through the article but didn't read the whole study, so i'm not going to draw conclusions on the study, other than to say it's an interesting topic worthy of research.


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I think this quote re Liberia is particularly revealing:

At the beginning of her second term, President Johnson Sirleaf reconstituted her cabinet further to reflect the age, gender, religion, and ethnicity ranges in the country. These strategies based on representative diversity were associated with an average annual 4% GDP growth rate in her first five years in office (2006–2010), as compared with the 1% growth of her predecessor, President Charles Taylor, in his last five years (1999–2003). Her agenda differed from her male predecessors’, particularly that of former President Samuel Doe (1986–1990), who was known for favoring his ethnic group, the Krahns, which ultimately sparked a rebellion against him. Her male counterparts’ agendas were not about the unification of the country’s various groups, but instead were about grabbing resources for their favored group.

Among other things, I studied conflict and development in Africa in university. Charles Taylor is an evil man and a bastard warlord charged with crimes against humanity and sent to the Hague, guilty of ****, murder, terrorism etc. and just about every other disgusting thing one can think of.  Not hard to do better than he did haha. But men tend to behave more violently than women generally, so it's worth looking into how this may affect leadership behaviour and outcomes, and how internal conflicts such as civil wars in Liberia and other African countries might be influenced by gender of leadership.

It's really hard to isolate variables to explain things like economic outcomes, there's so many factors that go into ie: GDP growth, especially in these diverse & complex developing countries.  That's why we have to be extremely careful in making conclusions about correlation vs causation.  The authors acknowledged this distinction to their credit:

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Let us be clear: This strong correlation does not guarantee women will always be successful and our research does not establish a causal relationship. Some might argue that our results are due to special circumstances in diverse countries that made it possible for women leaders to emerge or that women leaders are simply benefiting from economies that were bound to rebound. However, there is reason to believe that these female heads of state actually led their diverse countries differently than their male counterparts. Both explanations could be at play. The important takeaway here is that female leaders are associated with economic outcomes that suggest that they may be better able to unlock the benefits of diversity at the country level than their male counterparts.

So your statement...

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Women serve their people and their country..
Men serve themselves and their cronies.
Too harsh?
Let me put it another way: Men serve and maintain the patriarchal crony system. Women have no allegiance nor subservience to the patriarchal system.
GDP seems to like it.

You're making broad over-generalizations, and also making causal relationships that aren't proven in the research as the authors admit.  Such over-generalizing statements about men and women aren't helpful either because, frankly, that language is sexist & divisive, and would just make some males, including some academics, PO'd because it doesn't apply to all men or all women.  A more accurate thing to say would be:  data suggests it could be true that more female than male leaders tend to lead less divisively, which may improve economic outcomes for those countries.
Good medicine turns poisonous when the dose is too high.

Offline Granny

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It's an interesting theory and the evidence shows that it is promising to explore further the differences and outcomes of male vs female leaders, especially in these diverse countries and often developing economies.
 I skimmed through the article but didn't read the whole study, so i'm not going to draw conclusions on the study, other than to say it's an interesting topic worthy of research.
The study is quite a bit more comprehensive than you suggest: 
To test this idea, we studied data from 188 of the 193 United Nations–recognized countries. Our research examined leaders in modern history (1950–2004)

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It's really hard to isolate variables to explain things like economic outcomes, there's so many factors that go into ie: GDP growth, especially in these diverse & complex developing countries.  That's why we have to be extremely careful in making conclusions about correlation vs causation.  The authors acknowledged this distinction to their credit:
Yes, of course. They're scientists.

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You're making broad over-generalizations, and also making causal relationships that aren't proven in the research ...
Yes I did, and I wasn't clear that those were not based on that research, but on my own observations and life  experiences.
And ... we've just seen a classic example in Canada of what a male leader does to women who rebel against his 'crony capitalism'.  Lol

Offline MH

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I believe that women are generally better leaders, but kind of for the reasons TimG says.  Women who rise to the top will be better because they have to be.  They will be younger, better educated because the bar is higher.

Offline Pinus or Vid or...?????

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I believe that women are generally better leaders, but kind of for the reasons TimG says.  Women who rise to the top will be better because they have to be.  They will be younger, better educated because the bar is higher.

I disagree. I think it just depends on the person.  Can you imagine if Kim Campbell was in office throughout the 90s? Or if Hilary Clinton won the US Election? It would be a disaster. On the other hand Margaret Thatcher was one of Britain's best Prime Ministers.
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Offline Granny

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I believe that women are generally better leaders, but kind of for the reasons TimG says.  Women who rise to the top will be better because they have to be.  They will be younger, better educated because the bar is higher.
(I think you meant poonlight graham.)

"Women have to be better" to get there ... often true.
But "better" can mean a variety of things. I'm particularly struck by this observation re Liberia:
Her male counterparts’ agendas were not about the unification of the country’s various groups, but instead were about grabbing resources for their favored group.
I wouldn't generalize that to all men, but we certainly see that in the two entrenched parties of power in Canada.
Time to try something different?

Offline MH

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1. (I think you meant poonlight graham.)

2. "Women have to be better" to get there ... often true.

3.  Time to try something different?
1. Sorry they both had good points.  It's impossible to isolate variables here, and there is too small a sample of women.  We are left to agree on things that *seem* to be obvious and true such as...

2. ... this thing.  Also as was pointed out, only Western countries elect women.  It's actually true what TimG says: "i.e. countries with a culture that make it possible for women to fill these top posts are going to do better. "  This is a vote in favour of diversity from TimG btw.

3. I don't think it's valid to assume women have a different bio-cultural makeup that makes them 'better' leaders.  If you allow that kind of assumption, in principle, it takes you to weird places like... British people can't cook and Italians can't fix cars etc.

Offline Granny

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1. Sorry they both had good points.  It's impossible to isolate variables here, and there is too small a sample of women.  We are left to agree on things that *seem* to be obvious and true such as...

2. ... this thing.  Also as was pointed out, only Western countries elect women.  It's actually true what TimG says: "i.e. countries with a culture that make it possible for women to fill these top posts are going to do better. "  This is a vote in favour of diversity from TimG btw.
This study is admittedly an initial look at the data on M vs F led countries. Many variables remain to be clarified, hypotheses generated and tested on datasets, etc. And yes,
A disproportionate amount of female national leader-year periods are in developed, as compared to less developed, nations
And Of the 1,338 total national leaders in this fifty-five year period, less than 5 percent (sixty-one leaders) were women
And the major finding - increases in average GDP in Female led countries - was found to apply particularly to ethnically diverse countries where there is ethnic fractionalization.
Full paper from the Journal of International Affairs  here:
https://jia.sipa.columbia.edu/ethnic-diversity-gender-national-leaders
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3. I don't think it's valid to assume women have a different bio-cultural makeup that makes them 'better' leaders.  If you allow that kind of assumption, in principle, it takes you to weird places like... British people can't cook and Italians can't fix cars etc.
Let's just stick to Male Female differences in country leadership, as that's complex enough for now.
I don't agree that we shouldn't study it because it could 'take us to weird places'. (Some cross-cultural leadership studies have been done and the sky didn't fall.) I think leadership gender is legitimate inquiry in attempts to elucidate factors that contribute to a country's success, especially in relation to success with ethnic diversity and associated ethnic fractionalization which affects many countries today.
 These preliminary findings of positive female leadership effects on GDP suggest that further research to clarify leadership qualities or practices  contributing to those results might be useful.

« Last Edit: May 11, 2019, 01:05:35 pm by Granny »

Offline Spectre of Graham

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I disagree. I think it just depends on the person.

It does depend on the person.  People should be elected or hired based on the qualities they possess, not on a stereotype of the group they belong to.

That said, certain trends can be seen based on different characteristics, although lots of outliers always exist in virtually any trend, and we need to be careful not to stereotype while also recognizing trends based on data.
Good medicine turns poisonous when the dose is too high.

Offline Spectre of Graham

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(I think you meant poonlight graham.)

"Women have to be better" to get there ... often true.
But "better" can mean a variety of things. I'm particularly struck by this observation re Liberia:
Her male counterparts’ agendas were not about the unification of the country’s various groups, but instead were about grabbing resources for their favored group.
I wouldn't generalize that to all men, but we certainly see that in the two entrenched parties of power in Canada.
Time to try something different?

I would vote for a woman candidate without hesitation if they were the best candidate. I thought Rona Ambrose seemed more sensible and likeable than Andrew Scheer.  I would be in favour of seeing more female party leaders in Canada and elsewhere.

Margaret Thatcher was a lot tougher than Jimmy Carter, and JWR is far tougher than that alpha-male wannabe Justin. so of course as I've said it's tough to generalize.  Personally, I think power games are the nature of politics.  I've seen lots of women just as cut-throat and backstabbing and jealous as men in the workplace, though as a whole they also tend to behave differently, and put more emphasis on social priorities while men care less about that and keep more to themselves about personal and social matters ie: celebrating someone's birthday. for instance.
Good medicine turns poisonous when the dose is too high.
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Offline Pinus or Vid or...?????

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I would vote for a woman candidate without hesitation if they were the best candidate. I thought Rona Ambrose seemed more sensible and likeable than Andrew Scheer.  I would be in favour of seeing more female party leaders in Canada and elsewhere.

Margaret Thatcher was a lot tougher than Jimmy Carter, and JWR is far tougher than that alpha-male wannabe Justin. so of course as I've said it's tough to generalize.  Personally, I think power games are the nature of politics.  I've seen lots of women just as cut-throat and backstabbing and jealous as men in the workplace, though as a whole they also tend to behave differently, and put more emphasis on social priorities while men care less about that and keep more to themselves about personal and social matters ie: celebrating someone's birthday. for instance.

Then again, being better than Sheer is not saying much.  He has set the bar very low...
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