Date of Award

Spring 4-19-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Affairs

Department Chair or Program Director

Cooperman, Rosalyn

First Advisor

Lester, Emile

Second Advisor

Farnsworth, Stephen

Major or Concentration

Political Science


Throughout the pandemic, many conservatives like President Donald Trump lacked emotional sensitivity in regards to the millions of lives affected by COVID-19. They believed themselves to be too strong for the virus to take them down, and viewed those who wore masks as weak and afraid. Unlike Democrats, Republican governors entrusted their constituents to take necessary safety precautions and avoided statewide mask mandates, vaccine requirements, and lockdowns. Their policies and rhetoric demonstrated the overlap in harmful masculine traits and the conservative values of self-sufficiency and independence. Using a case study method, this paper analyzes the role of gender in a governor’s pandemic response by comparing women and men of the same party, and the role of partisanship by comparing Republicans to Democrats of the same gender. By applying Carol Gilligan's Ethics of Care theory to each governor's response, this paper concludes with the understanding that (1) Care Ethics are essential in matters of public health; (2) Democrats and women tend to base their responses to COVID-19 using an ethic of care over an ethic of justice, but not exclusively; (3) Gender and partisanship are critical factors in determining ethical behavior during the pandemic, but so is personal tragedy, personal suffering, and caregiving experience; and (4) Justice Ethics and Care Ethics are not incompatible with each other and should both be used in matters of public health.