During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, then-Republican nominee John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his VP, in what on paper seemed like a brilliant move by his advisors.
The 72-year-old McCain needed a young figure to go against 47-year-old Barack Obama. The 44-year-old Palin, former Alaska governor, pageant queen and avid deer hunter, seemed like a much-needed injection of youth to the duo.
But then came the quotables. In an interview with CBS’s Katie Couric, Palin was asked what newspapers does he read, to which she answered: “Um, all of ’em, any of ’em that, um, have, have been in front of me over all these years.”
Couric then asked Palin to name a few and the former governor answered that she could not remember.
Palin became a permanent laughingstock for satirists, with some alleging she hurt McCain’s presidential race.
She was the second woman to be nominated for the vice presidency, with the first being Geraldine Ferraro who ran with Democrat Walter Mondale during the 1984 elections, which also ended in his loss to Ronald Reagan.
In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination, with rival Donald Trump alleging that she was only picked as a presidential candidate because she was a woman, adding that if she was a man, she would have won only 5% of the vote.
Clinton went on to receive three million votes more than Trump, but lost in the electoral college.
In the run-up to the 2020 elections, Joe Biden picked Kamala Harris as his running mate following talks with his advisors and surveys.
A quick look at the female world leaders and their successes in tackling the coronavirus pandemic could prove as further evidence to why Biden picked Harris.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, Finish Prime Minister Sanna Marin and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg have all lead their respective nation’s successful efforts and campaigns in stemming the virus’ spread.
Uma Kambhampati, professor of economics at the University of Reading, and Supriya Garikipati, associate professor in development economics at the University of Liverpool, compared and studied the data of 194 countries in their treatment of the coronavirus pandemic.
They considered variables like population size, GDP, health expenses, gender equality and how much of the population is elderly.
In their study published at the end of August, they found that countries led by women dealt better with the pandemic. They also saw that not only were infection rates relatively low in those nations, so was the death toll from the disease.
The study found that female leaders approach the crisis from a point of view of saving lives, rather than economic reasons and use more emotional intelligence and empathy when it comes to their citizens.
It should be noted that less than 10% of the world’s countries and about 4% of the global population are governed by women, a sample size too small for any concrete statistical significance.
But despite these reservations, this study and many others like it are changing the public discourse over the role of women in political leadership.
The question is no longer if women can run states like men, but if they do it better.
Great crises birth great leaders, such as the case with FDR, who lead the U.S. through the Great Depression.
The current economic and health crisis wrought by the coronavirus pandemic is not far off from that, and there will be major consequences for the way nations and societies conduct themselves.
Leaders will be measured on their response to the pandemic, which will form a key parameter in their leadership capabilities.
This also raises the possibility that the pandemic will revolutionize the status of women in politics.
Biden and Harris could prove a test case for this revolution if they succeed where Trump failed.
The president-elect will likely serve only one term due to his advanced age and his vice president could become a natural candidate for the presidency, thereby becoming the first female American president.