“Your résumé is impressive, ma’am, but we regret to inform you that you are too pretty for this job.” We’re all aware that beautiful women have certain advantages in society, but could beauty be a burden when it comes to job hunting? Not as much as the media hype would like us to believe, a recent study proved looking good helps both women and men. The research determined that the only time attractive females may find themselves at a disadvantage is when applying for blue collar male-dominated professions, such as a truck driver.
In the ’70s and ’80s, researchers put forth the “beauty is beastly” theory, which asserted that beautiful women were handicapped when it came to obtaining traditionally male careers. Because these results are still disputed, professors from three American universities sought to obtain more conclusive data on the topic.
The professors recruited a couple of groups of university students to serve as the subjects. Provided with a list of jobs, the first group estimated the gender breakdown of each career by percentage. These subjects then rated the importance of a candidate’s physical appearance for each job. Meanwhile, the second group examined photos of Caucasians from a college yearbook, ranking each individual on a 1-7 scale of attractiveness. Afterwards, they rated the suitability of these same people for particular jobs based solely on their appearance in the photograph.
The study conclusively showed that attractive people were considered better for employment for all of the jobs on the whole. Attractive men are the most fortunate group of people, deemed suitable for all jobs regardless of whether the jobs are considered feminine or do not require good looks. As for the women, the research did not support the “beauty is beastly” effect; overall, the subjects gave pretty women high ratings for their aptness in even masculine careers. However, researchers did notice that these women scored more poorly at stereotypical male blue collar jobs in which attractiveness was not important.
Attractive people need not worry: overall, beauty is helpful to both men and women when applying for the majority of jobs. Nonetheless, on the occasions when beautiful women apply for stereotypically male careers that do not require good looks, such as construction workers, they are more likely to be considered an unsuitable candidate. Beauty may not be as “beastly” as previous research suggested, but it can be a burden for women attempting to defy gender norms in the workplace.