Attractive women also face workplace discrimination

August 8th, 2010 - 11:18 am ICT by IANS  

Los Angeles, Aug 8 (IANS) It’s not always the case when attractive women are favoured by bosses. Beauty has an ugly side too, at least for some women who look for jobs considered “masculine” by society.
Attractive women were discriminated against when applying for jobs considered “masculine”, and for which appearance was not seen as important to the job, according to a study conducted by the University of Colorado’s Denver Business School.

Positions such as manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor were not considered favourable for attractive women, Xinhua news agency reported.

In the study, the researchers gave recruiters a list of jobs and photos of applicants and told them to sort them according to their suitability for the job. There were a total of 55 men and 55 women candidates.

In job categories like director of security, hardware salesperson, prison guard and tow truck driver, attractive women were overlooked. In each of these jobs, appearance was perceived to be unimportant.

Attractive women tended to be sorted into positions like receptionist or secretary.

“One could argue that, under certain conditions, physical appearance may be a legitimate basis for hiring,” said lead researcher Stefanie Johnson, assistant professor of management at the school.

“In jobs involving face-to-face client contact, such as sales, more physically attractive applicants could conceivably perform better than those who are less attractive. However, it is important that physical attractiveness is weighed equally for men and women to avoid discrimination against women.”

“In these professions, being attractive was highly detrimental to women,” she said.

“In every other kind of job, attractive women were preferred. This wasn’t the case with men, which shows that there is still a double standard when it comes to gender.”

Attractive men, however, suffered no discrimination and were always at an advantage, according to the study.

The study criticised those who let stereotypes influence hiring decisions.

However, it noted that attractive people still enjoy a significant edge. They tend to get higher salaries, better performance evaluations, higher levels of admission to college, better voter ratings when running for public office, and even favourable judgements in trials.

The study was published in the latest issue of the journal of Social Psychology.

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