If you are wondering why it seems that more men go maskless than women, then a study might have the answer. It says that women approach the pandemic differently compared to men.

A study titled, "Gender differences in COVID-19 attitudes and behaviour: Panel evidence from eight countries," published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), revealed that women have a lower chance of putting themselves at risk of contracting coronavirus. The reason behind this is that females tend to see COVID-19 as a serious health problem compared to men. Hence, they are more likely to follow health protocols that are imposed amid the pandemic.

More than 21,000 respondents were surveyed by international researchers from Harvard Business School, Bocconi University in Italy, and other universities across the globe. The respondents were from different countries including the U.S., France, Germany, Australia, Italy, Austria, New Zealand, and the U.K.

Paola Profeta, one of the authors of the study, revealed that gender differences were seen across different sociodemographic characteristics as well as psychological factors. "The biggest differences between men and women relate to behaviours that serve to protect others above all, such as coughing in the elbow, unlike those that can protect both themselves and others," she said.

The researchers noted that the differences in diligence in responding to COVID-19 was smaller among married couples, considering that they live together and are very likely to share similar views when it comes to dealing with the virus. There is also a small difference among individuals who are exposed directly to the virus. The differences in the response between men and women likewise decreased if they were exposed to a similar set of information. Over time though, researchers noticed that men and women's compliance with health protocols dropped.

The recent study is not the only one that delved into gender differences when it comes to dealing with coronavirus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in separate research revealed that men needed to be reminded more to wash their hands as compared to women. In the same study, it also pointed out that Hispanics and Blacks were more likely to remember washing their hands than Whites and that older adults are better at remembering it too compared to younger people.

Woman wearing mask
Woman wearing a mask Photo: Pixabay

The research on the different attitudes of men and women could explain why women showed lesser vulnerability to the virus compared to men. It also encourages policymakers to create separate campaigns directed towards men.