Global General

Beautiful women face discrimination in certain jobs

Updated: 2010-08-08 08:51
Large Medium Small

LOS ANGELES - Beauty has an ugly side, at least for women in terms of looking for certain kinds of jobs, suggests a new study.

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 the study conducted by researchers at University of Colorado's Denver Business School.

Such positions included job titles like manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor.

In the study, the researchers gave job recruiters a list of jobs and photos of applicants and told them to sort them according to their suitability for the job. They had a stack of 55 male and 55 female photos.

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," said Johnson. "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 suffered no similar discrimination and were always at an advantage, according to the study.

The study chided those who let stereotypes influence hiring decisions. Given the importance of hiring and the consequences of making a wrong choice, managers need to rely more on information from the individual rather than on stereotypes about physical appearance.

However, the study noted that beautiful 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 more favorable judgments in trials.