Unemployed? You might be too pretty

The Globe and Mail

(Stock photo | Thinkstock/Stock photo | Thinkstock)

Dishy men and gorgeous women earn more than average-looking ones – researchers have done the math.

Beauty, however, is a liability for female job seekers, the Economist reports. And not because fetching women are perceived as less intelligent (a.k.a. the “bimbo effect”).

The reason, according to two Israeli economists, is that human resources departments are largely staffed by women, who dismiss good-looking candidates out of pure jealousy.

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Bradley Ruffle at Ben-Gurion University and Ze’ev Shtudiner at Ariel University Centre sent sham applications to more than 2,500 real job vacancies. For each job, they sent two very similar resumes, one without a photo and one with a mugshot of a comely applicant.

Unlike in North America, attaching a photo to a resume is customary in much of Europe and Asia.

The researchers discovered that resumes with photos of physically attractive women were far less likely to land an interview than those without a photo attached. The researchers calculated that a beautiful woman would need to send out 11 CVs on average before getting an interview, compared with seven CVs for an equally qualified plain Jane.

Resumes with photos of handsome men, however, were more likely to result in an interview.

In their study, 93 per cent of the human resources staff responsible for weeding out applicants were women. After trying out various theories, the researchers concluded: “Female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace and the negative perception of women (but not men) who include pictures of themselves on their CVs are the primary reasons for the punishment of attractive women.”

Perhaps the study should be redone in North America, where interviewers typically do online searches after short-listing job candidates. “Would an attractive Linkedin photo still turn them off?” asked Eva Pereira, a producer at Forbes.com.

Commenting at the same site, AnaDascalu, a self-identified recruiter in Bucharest, confessed to feeling envy at the sight of an attractive woman’s photo on a CV. “When I feel ‘threatened’ by a pretty woman, I make the decision to be 50 per cent more thorough during interviews…because if I do reject her, I wanna be sure the candidate’s [performance]was the problem and not the interviewing technique.”

But Cindy, writing at the Daily Beast, accused the Israeli researchers of perpetuating the stereotype that all women are jealous of attractive women. “In my personal experience,” she added, “attractive women are often seen as difficult to work with, bitchy and entitled by other women. That’s not jealousy, that’s annoyance.”

But it’s discrimination all the same.

Do you think beauty is a liability in the labour market?

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