Date of Award

January 2023

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Joelle Ruthig


Gender equality has broad individual and societal benefits. However, research continues to show evidence of gender-related biases and barriers to equality. One such barrier is the zero-sum perspective (ZSP) of gender status: the belief that any gains by women coincides with equal costs to men. Prior research has focused on between-group differences in ZSP endorsement after receiving a threat to gender status (i.e., women outperforming men in some capacity). The current study aimed to expand upon past research through three main objectives: assessing the between- and within-group malleability of the ZSP of gender status by introducing a threat to gender status quo, assessing whether ZSP endorsement can be diminished via an educational intervention and examining the association between ZSP and subsequent gender-equality behavior. The study utilized a 2 Status quo (threat, affirmation) x 2 Education (education, no education) factorial design with the ZSP of gender status assessed both before and after exposure to the status quo and education conditions. Adults (n = 242) from across the United States were recruited via Cloud Research to participate in the two-part study. At Time 1 participants completed demographics and measures of the ZSP of gender status, social dominance orientation, right wing authoritarianism, and hostile sexism. Two weeks later at Time 2, participants were randomly assigned to a Gender Status Quo Condition (threat or affirmation) and a Gender Equality Education Condition (education or control) then completed ZSP and donation measures. Contrary to expectations, the threat to gender status quo did not increase the ZSP and education did not decrease the ZSP. Surprisingly, there was a significant difference among men in the no-education condition, wherein men who received a threat to status-quo had lower levels ZSP than men who received an affirmation. Additionally, though not statistically significant, there was a trend wherein men who received the threat and education had higher levels of general ZSP than those who did not receive education. Results have implications for identifying potential methods of reducing the ZSP as well as identifying factors that may lead to increased endorsement of this barrier to gender equality.