Win-win: Female and male athletes from more gender equal nations perform better in international sports competitions

Jennifer L. Berdahl, Eric Luis Uhlmann, Feng Bai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review


The present study provides the first evidence that increased gender equality in a society releases the human potential not only of women, but also of men. Our research setting is the Olympic Games, the world's foremost sports competition and one of the few contexts in which men's and women's performance is fully segregated by gender and objectively measured at the highest levels. We find that even after controlling for potential third variables (i.e., national gross domestic product, population size, geographic latitude, and income inequality), higher levels of gender equality in a country predict significantly greater success at winning Olympic medals for both its female and male athletes. These findings contradict the common belief that access to opportunities is a zero-sum game in which gains for women inevitably result in losses for men. Rather, gender equality is a "win-win" that allows members of both genders to realize their true potential.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-3
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Experimental Social Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sep 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Achievement
  • Cross-national comparison
  • Gender inequality
  • Olympic Games
  • Sport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science

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