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Pretty Women, Ugly Jobs

Posted by Sally at 17th August, 2010

woman at construction site wearing a white tshirt, sunglasses, and hard hat

Image: Seattle Municipal Archives Flickr

Attractive people usually have it good in our society, and that’s not any less true in the world of work. In the past few weeks, beauty in the workplace has been cropping up in the news left and right.

For starters, research by Newsweek confirmed, yet again, what many have known for years: “in all elements of the workplace, from hiring to politics to promotions, even, looks matter, and they matter hard.”

Here’s a look at some of the stats:

  • 68% of managers believe attractiveness is a factor when measuring job performance.
  • 39% of managers believe that attractiveness is more of an advantage for women than men.
  • Of nine attributes, looks ranked third in importance, while education came in fourth.

Being attractive also gets you paid, about 4 – 5% more, in fact. This certainly helps explain a recent finding in the UK that blonde women make more than other women. They also marry richer men (who, no doubt, are probably more attractive given everything else we’re learning). Another poll also found that they don’t only make more, but blondes spend more as well — on things like shoes and handbags. One can only infer that they need to spend more to make themselves more attractive.

But, as is usually the case, it’s not as simple as that. You see, there is a gray area: in some cases attractive women fare worse than their less attractive counterparts. A recent study found that attractive women are not welcome in traditionally “masculine” fields, like finance, construction, and engineering.

The implications of these findings are hard to say. Be pretty but not too pretty? If you’re fortunate enough to have a higher salary, use that extra money to look better? I try to look at it a bit more optimistically than that: work your butt off once you land a job so that your credentials can speak for themselves as much as they can.

In the workplace, there will always be certain aspects that are out of our hands. But the work you do and the positive attitude you bring to the workplace are largely influenced by you. Even the Newsweek study found that confidence plays a major role. Take that control and run with it!

About Sally

Sally M. has written one article on this blog.

Category : Careers / News / Women

One Response to “Pretty Women, Ugly Jobs”

  1. Lee says:

    How unfortunate. The more you think things change the more they truly remain the same!

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