Gendering Political Leadership: Hypermasculine Leadership and Covid-19

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Informed by scholarship on gendered leadership, feminist institutionalism, and policy failures, the article asks whether hypermasculine leadership traits–displayed in rhetoric, behavior, and symbols–contributed to a failure in the timely implementation of appropriate policy measures and the clear and effective communication of new rules to citizens to gain their trust and widespread compliance, with an important impact on the effectiveness of early Covid policy responses. From this preliminary study, it appears that the reluctance of hypermasculine leaders to take the pandemic seriously and implement or adhere to mitigation measures, contributed to incoherent policy-making, poor and confused communication, reducing levels of public trust, and contributing to high rates of infection and death. The article also highlights hypermasculine leadership styles’ contextual specificity, by exploring in greater depth how UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s particular form of English elite white hypermasculinity influenced his policy responses and communication strategies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1153-1173
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of European Public Policy
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jun 2021


  • Covid-19
  • Hypermasculine leadership
  • feminist institutionalism
  • gender
  • policy failure
  • political leadership


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