Too Good Looking For a Job?

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

I remember some time ago chatting with a couple of male colleagues. They were explaining to me that they were too good looking to get picked up. It seems when they went to bars or dance clubs, they would be admired and ogled but few would approach them … potential suitors felt they were out of their league in making a move because the guys were so handsome!

Now most of us would have thought that the good looking types would never have a lonely night. But being too good looking has it downsides it seems.

A recent study has now verified that as far as work goes, looks also have an impact on whether you “get selected”l.

Recruiters were chosen for the study and asked to categorise photos of women and men according to whom they would select for certain positions.

Reported in the Journal of Social Psychology, researchers found that

  • when being considered for traditionally masculine jobs (like prison guard or construction worker), attractive women were overlooked
  • when being considered for jobs such as Finance Director, Manager of R&D, Engineer attractive women were considered not suitable
  • attractive women were selected for traditionally female roles such as receptionist or secretary
  • men were considered for all positions based on their looks – there was no stereotyping according to role
  • attractiveness worked favourably for males and females in matters of compensation, performance assessment and generally

“There is still a double standard when it comes to gender” said Stefanie Johnson, the researcher.

This research supports the view that women in particular continue to suffer workplace discrimination based on their attractiveness or looks.

Merit Selection may be a wonderful philosophy but it seems we are still more likely to select

(a) based on deemed attractiveness and

(b) according to stereotypes roles

Discrimination is alive and kicking.

Guess it pays overall to at least be attractive!

Source: Journal of Social Psychology, June 2010, Stefanie Johnson Assistant Professor of Management at University of Colorado

Physical Attractiveness Biases in Ratings of Employment Suitability- Tracking Down the “Beauty is Beastly Effect