Attractive Women Face Hiring Discrimination

Attractive women face discrimination when applying for "masculine" jobs. The benefit from their attractiveness in all other jobs, however.

The world just isn’t fair to hotties, a new study finds.

Good looks can kill a woman’s chances of snaring jobs considered “masculine,” according to a study by the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

Attractive women faced discrimination when they applied for jobs where appearance was not seen as important. These positions included job titles like manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor.

They were also overlooked for categories like director of security, hardware salesperson, prison guard and tow-truck driver.

“In these professions being attractive was highly detrimental to women,” researcher Stefanie Johnson said in a statement, adding that attractive women tended to be sorted into positions like receptionist or secretary.

There is a silver lining, however:

“In every other kind of job, attractive women were preferred.”

Not shockingly:

“This wasn’t the case with men which shows that there is still a double standard when it comes to gender.”

The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, was based on giving participants a list of jobs and photos of applicants and asking them to sort them according to their suitability for the role. They had a stack of 55 male and 55 female photos.  While the researchers found good-looking women were ruled out for certain jobs, they found that attractive men did not face similar discrimination and were always at an advantage.

But Johnson said beautiful people still enjoyed a significant edge when it came to the workplace.  They tended to get higher salaries, better performance evaluations, higher levels of admission to college, better voter ratings when running for public office, and more favorable judgments in trials.

Thus, we’re attracted to people we consider attractive?  The things you learn from science!

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Gender Issues, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Anon says:

    The article suggests that the test subjects were given only a photo. I wonder what the results would be if they were given a small passport-style photo and a resume.

  2. john personna says:

    I think I’ve mentioned the test that I found most interesting.  Researchers sent volunteers out with a script, to ask for charitable donations.  The beautiful women collected more, even for charity, even from women.
    An odd footnote is that these studies often classify their subjects  as “one std. deviation” or “two std. deviations” more beautiful than average.