Even before the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, was declared a pandemic, prominent women mayors in the United States enacted proactive and innovative policies to prevent local outbreaks and soften the social and economic repercussions. Several Black women mayors, in particular, have led the way in local pandemic response efforts. This article identifies four major features of these and other women mayors’ early responses. First, women mayors demonstrated proactive leadership even when faced with pushback. Second, these mayors advocated for transparent and evidence-based decision-making at all levels of government. Third, they enacted measures to protect vulnerable communities and reduce disparities. Fourth, they actively shared advice on best practices and lessons learned, and provided examples for other local leaders to follow. The article concludes by situating these responses in the larger research on gender and leadership and asks whether these women’s actions are unique or part of a systematic trend of gendered responses to the pandemic.
Photo: Josh Hild V