Women in the Workplace

04.10.12

Who Discriminates Against Attractive Women?

The Daily Dish links to this study at the Economist about the difficulties attractive women face getting interviewed for jobs.

The Dish comments: "For attractive women, attaching a headshot to a resume isn't recommended."

But if you follow the link, you see that the Dish stepped on the lead and missed the fascinating reason why headshots are not recommended. The Economist version:

At first, Mr Ruffle considered what he calls the “dumb-blonde hypothesis”—that people assume beautiful women to be stupid. However, the photos had also been rated on how intelligent people thought each subject looked; there was no correlation between perceived intellect and pulchritude.

So the cause of the discrimination must lie elsewhere. Human resources departments tend to be staffed mostly by women. Indeed, in the Israeli study, 93% of those tasked with selecting whom to invite for an interview were female. The researchers’ unavoidable—and unpalatable—conclusion is that old-fashioned jealousy led the women to discriminate against pretty candidates.

So should attractive women simply attach photos that make them look dowdy? No. Better, says Mr Ruffle, to discourage the practice of including a photo altogether. Companies might even consider the anonymous model used in the Belgian public sector, where CVs do not even include the candidate’s name.