As bizarre as the question (in the title) may sound, a recent study shows that a woman’s appearance can
have an impact on her career (unfortunately).
But, it’s not what most of us have been made to believe. In fact, it’s the other way round.
Women who are physically beautiful and attractive do not get to experience a smooth ride in the professional world. Instead, they are deemed less trustworthy and truthful than others and hence, are more likely to be fired.
Leah D. Sheppard and Stefanie K. Johnson, from Washington State University and the University of Colorado Boulder, respectively, conducted a joint research study to investigate the widely prevalent point of view that beautiful and attractive women are considered less capable or poor fit for certain
The results of the research were published in Sex Roles – A Journal of Research in March 2019. And unfortunately, the proposed hypothesis was proved right. However, when it comes to identifying the reasons behind this perception, the research found that it goes beyond the generally accepted explanation that beautiful women aren’t considered the right fit for
positions that have traditionally been masculine.
The research found that the reasons for this biased judgment are rooted in sexual insecurity, fear, and jealousy. The phenomenon was labeled as the ‘femme fatale effect’ by the researchers. While the research findings left many startled, this wasn’t the first time that researchers had identified or hinted towards the misleading prevailing notion that beautiful people have an edge when it comes to employment. An earlier study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, in October 2017, had found somewhat similar results. According to the research findings, attractive people are
considered unsuitable for ‘menial’ jobs because of the preconceived notion that they would not be satisfied with the work and salary.
The same year i.e. in 2017, a Silicon Valley CEO Eileen Carey also told the BBC that she dyed her naturally blonde hair to a darker color and replaced her contact lenses with glasses in order to be taken seriously by her colleagues and peers in the industry. She even started wearing loose-fitting clothes.
“For me to be successful in this (tech industry) space, I’d like to draw as little attention as possible, especially in any sort of sexual way,” she said while talking to the BBC. “I want to be seen as a business leader and not as a sexual object. Those lines are still crossed very often in this space,” Carey said while explaining the reason for making the changes in her appearance.
Carey also told the BBC that she had also met several other such women when she was hiring for her startup.