August 2021

Continuing gender bias in leadership roles undermines us all

My article in Perspective magazine

Imagine this. Theresa May was never toppled, and Boris Johnson is still making trouble on the backbenches. May has finally extricated Britain from the EU but, more importantly for these purposes, she is prime minister in the time of Covid. Do you think she would have missed the first five Cobra meetings at the start of the pandemic? Can you envisage her blithely shaking hands with coronavirus patients and then boasting about it? Would she have delayed putting India on the red list because she wanted to sign a trade deal?

Would the UK have ended up with one of the highest death rates in Europe?

I very much doubt it, and I’m not even a fan of hers. I don’t think she was a good prime minister. But she was at least diligent, conscientious, cautious and thoughtful, none of which traits belong to the current incumbent, but all of which have been exemplified by the best leaders in this pandemic. Think of Jacinda Ardern or Angela Merkel, and compare their record with Johnson, Trump, Bolsonaro, Putin, Modi and Erdoğan.

About the author

Journalist, author, non-executive director, broadcaster

Mary Ann Sieghart spent 20 years as Assistant Editor and columnist at The Times and won a large following for her columns on politics, economics, feminism, parenthood and life in general. She has presented many programmes on BBC Radio 4, such as Start the Week, Profile, Analysis, Fallout and One to One. She chaired the revival of The Brains Trust on BBC2 and recently spent a year as a Visiting Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford. She has chaired the Social Market Foundation think tank, is a Visiting Professor at King’s College London, and sits on numerous boards.

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Mary Ann Sieghart