Gender Equality Wins the Gold

A new study finds equal rights for women may also boost the competitive prospects of men.
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(Photo: Singulyarra/Shutterstock)

(Photo: Singulyarra/Shutterstock)

Among traditionalists, the belief still lingers that—at least in the work world—gains for women inevitably mean losses for men. Well, set aside that zero-sum thinking: A new study finds equal rights for women may also boost the competitive prospects of men.

(Illustration: Denis Carrier)

(Illustration: Denis Carrier)

A research team led by Jennifer Berdahl of the University of British Columbia looked at the “gender gap score” of 136 nations—a composite measure of economic, political, health, and educational equality between the sexes—and compared each nation’s score to the number of medals it won at the 2012 Summer and 2014 Winter Olympics.

The results, published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, showed “higher levels of gender equality in a country predict significantly greater success at winning Olympic medals for both its female and male athletes,” even after controlling for such variables as population size and GDP.

“Gender equality,” the researchers conclude, “is a ‘win- win.’”

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