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April 21, 2011

"Attractive" women less likely to be interviewed for jobs?

It's a day that ends in a "y", so there must be a new study out!

This time, instead of who should pay for a date, the study is about gender, pictures, and jobs.

But first, the most burning question: why do these studies always show up in the Daily Mail?

Yes, it's true. The Daily Mail has written about this one too.

Basically, it says that attractive women who attach photos to their CVs in the job application process are less likely to get an interview. (Of course, attractive men who attach their photos are more likely).

And it's all out of jealousy, baby. (Can I call you baby? Well, you didn't have to give me a black eye. You could have just said "no")

You read correctly.

The study blames:
"young, single and ‘jealous’ women in personnel departments who screen which jobseekers should be invited in.

But in an example of the ‘double standards’ that the researchers said these staff employed, attractive men who attach a photograph are more likely to get an interview than plain ones."
Apparently, the research showed that HR departments are overwhelmingly staffed with 29-year-old single women. (Ok, they may have used the word "average" in there rather than "overwhelmingly)

(I'll bet she's turning down a beautiful woman right now)

The research was published by the Royal Economic Society, and here's the methodology. Evidently researchers sent out "more than 5,300 CVs for 2,650 job vacancies. For each job, two applications were sent. One contained a photograph of an attractive man or woman, or a plain-looking man or woman. The other CV was identical, but did not contain a photograph."

Wait, were the CVs the same, except for the pictures? To the same job? Wouldn't the HR people figure something was up if they get the same two CVs, but one has a picture? And once they realized they were the same, the picture-less CV would be ignored anyway.

I haven't read the study, but that's what the article says, and that methodology just sounds weird.

But here's my favourite line in the article. About all of those women in the HR departments?
"When they see an application from a pretty woman, researchers said, many of these staff feel extremely ‘jealous’ of their potential colleague and often reject her instantly."
The suggestion is that they feel less-attractive women are the "underdog" and they want to support them over the attractive ones who could "find a job elsewhere." (which kind of goes against the suggestion that they're "jealous," doesn't it?)

Anyway, for some reason, this study just doesn't pass my smell test.

On the other hand, I've had some women tell me that, in the workplace game, one reason women have so much trouble compared to men is that men band together in mutual support. All too often, women are competitive,with the knives coming out, instead of supportive, and thus they don't have that network that men do.

Maybe there is something there?

So what do you think? Is this study full of it? Or is there something to this, do you think? Ladies, chime in! Especially if you're attractive.

Ok, scratch that last part. That was uncalled for.

Finally, I should mention this, in case you don't read the article.

The research was performed by researchers in the Department of Economics at Ben-Gurion University, as well as the Ariel University Centre in the West Bank (nice to see them cooperating!).

The reason this study was conducted in Israel rather than Britain is that it's more common for pictures to be attached to CVs in Israel than it is in Britain. I've been in a few hiring sessions for people at our office, and I've never seen a picture attached, so this study was news to me in more ways than one.


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