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Eve Ridenhour

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Thesis: Campus only access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Leadership Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Crystal Hoyt

Second Advisor

Dr. Chris von Rueden

Third Advisor

Dr. Kristjen Lundberg


Robust research has revealed the bias women leaders experience when they display agency. In a more nuanced approach to agency, recent research showed that it is the demonstration of the dominance component of agency that disadvantages women in leadership (Ma et al., 2022). When women exhibit the competence component of agency, they can experience a leadership advantage. In Study 1, we take a closer look at these divergent effects of dominance and competence for women leaders by exploring boundary conditions on the responses to women who display dominant or competent agency. Building from system justification and social dominance theories, we test the prediction that the extent to which women incur penalties or accolades for engaging in different types of agency depends on perceivers’ egalitarian-related motives and beliefs. Over the course of two studies, we found and replicated that women experience a leadership advantage relative to men, regardless of the type of agency they display, and that this effect is driven by people with strong egalitarian beliefs devaluing the male leader: motivated egalitarianism. In Study 2 we also found that leaders who gave an egalitarian speech experienced a leadership advantage relative to leaders who gave an anti-egalitarian speech, and that these results were driven by participants who valued egalitarianism devaluing the anti-egalitarian leader. Motivated egalitarianism is the idea that an egalitarian society can be achieved through bias directed at the advantaged group. In two studies, we find evidence of motivated egalitarianism.

Available for download on Sunday, May 02, 2027