November 20, 2013

Too Pretty for the Job?

Friends having a fightI read an interesting article about a woman, Nan Boland, who decided to open her own recruiting firm. Another woman-owned business in the recruitment field? Nice.

But what really interested me was what Boland said about the makeup of her staff:

You know, it’s great. And interestingly, right now we have all females in our office, although that is not by design. Women in general are very strong individuals, but anyone can be successful in owning his or her own business, it’s just a matter of how hard you work and the good people you surround yourself with. I have a fantastic team. I’m not doing this alone, but I have a wonderful team and a business manager that has been with me since day one. I cannot take all the credit for my company’s success, because it’s been a great team effort. I’ve been blessed to have great relationships with our clients and candidates, too.

A woman-owned, 100 percent women-operated recruitment firm? Very nice…and very unique.

This unique setup particularly interested me because I remember reading a article about how women HR professionals often discriminate against attractive female job seekers.

The article explained how two Isreali researchers—Bradley Ruffle at Ben-Gurion University and Ze’ev Shtudiner at Ariel University Centre—sent out fake applications to 2,500 job openings. The researchers sent two applications to each job; one application included a photo and the other did not. The two believed that resumes including photos of attractive candidates would receive the greatest response.

This was partially true. Although attractive males received more callbacks for interviews than unattractive males, attractive women were less likely to get a callback for an interview if they attached a photo. Why the discrepancy?

The researchers concluded:

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.

Ladies, is this true?

Now, when first reading about the experiment, one might assume attractive women were ruled out because of the unfair “dumb blonde” or “dumb model” generalizations. Yet, each photo in the study was also rated on how intelligent people thought the person looked and the results showed that there was no correlation between one’s beauty and one’s intelligence level(s).

Are women HR professionals really discriminating against female job seekers?  If so, this is really disconcerting. Why you ask? Well, look at the stats about women in the workforce (and, ladies let me tell you, they’re not pretty):

  • Women make up 4.5 percent of Fortune 1000 CEO positions
  • In 2012—just like in 2002—among full-time, year-round workers, women were paid 77 percent of what men were paid.
  • In 2011, at 31.9 percent, women didn’t even account for half of all lawyers
  • From elementary and middle school teachers to computer programmers, women are paid less than men in female-dominated, gender-balanced, and male-dominated occupations (AAUW)

What am I saying? Ladies, it’s clear that we need one another. Although more and more women (and mothers) are entering the workforce, we still face many inequalities compared to our male counterparts. Instead of being jealous and discriminating against each other, we need to unite and continue to advocate for change and equality.

It may sound cliché, but the phrase, “United we stand, divided we fall,” is very true. Being jealous and unfair toward attractive women only harms women in the workforce overall. Instead of preventing women from entering a company, why not be fair in your selection process? View the female job seekers not as “threats,” but positively as more potential women who can add to those lists of CEOs and board members and ultimately help turn our male-dominated, senior-level workforce into an equal and level playing field.

Read more in Best Careers for Women

Marks’ stories have also been published in a variety of newspaper, magazine and online formats including The Arizona Republic, The Daily Herald, Arizona Foothills Magazine and various classroom magazines of Scholastic Inc. Service is her passion, writing is her platform and uplifting and inspiring the community is her purpose. Marks received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication from Arizona State University.
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