5 Shockingly Unfair Ways Your Looks Affect Your Career
What's on the inside may be what counts, but you don't see wheezing fat old men advertising sports cars and lingerie. We all know that our appearance changes our path through life, but it gets even weirder than you'd think. For example ...
Unattractive Scientists Are Viewed As Dull But Talented
Scientists have to be able to effectively communicate their findings to the public. It advances their careers, and makes sure a paper called "Experimental Liver Cancer Treatment In Rodents Produces Potential For Further Research" doesn't get reported by CNN as "Scientists Cure Cancer In Mice, Human Cure For All Cancers Ever Soon To Follow!" But most people aren't scientists, so how can we tell which ones are good at their jobs and which seemingly are just working to prove a link between climate change and the decline of ska? Well, we usually can't, so we judge them based on their looks.
A 2017 study found that people are more likely to be interested in research performed by scientists who are deemed "competent, moral, and attractive." So Dr. Honey Goodbody, who looks like she just stepped out of a Bond movie, will draw more interest than the wizened hunchback Dr. Cornelius Coughsalot, even if the former is looking into aardvark arthritis while the latter has a $500,000 grant to study why it feels good to eat ice cream and hug puppies.
Where it gets weirder is that when judging "good" science rather than "interesting" science, there's a bias toward "less sociable and more physically unattractive individuals." We like the hot scientists, but assume that deep down, they're maybe a little ditzy. Again, these judgments are being made by people who aren't scientists. They have no real idea what "good" science is. We just want our science to be taught to us by hot people, even as we believe that the scientists who fit the stereotype of a socially awkward troll unfit for the camera are doing the real work. Sure, they might one day cure ALS, but Christ, we don't want to look at them.
Aside from our natural inclination toward attractive people in, oh, every aspect of society, this also seems to be because most of us view science as another form of entertainment. When someone says that they "love" science, they don't mean they're poring over the latest issue of The Lancet. They mean they half-watch Neil deGrasse Tyson's latest Netflix show while they fart around on their phones. This can create a bias in what issues are considered to be of public importance, which in turn affects research funding, with money going to whoever can make their subject seem fun and interesting, rather than objectively useful. Of course, all this raises a potential paradox: How hot were the scientists who conducted this study?
If You're Attractive, You're Less Likely To Get A "Boring" Job
Being attractive generally gives you a boost in the hiring process. It's reasonably well-established that if two candidates are otherwise equal, then most people, consciously or not, are going to hire the one who's easy on the eyes rather, than the one who reminds them of the genetic lottery's many misfortunes. But this trend reverses if it's an "undesirable" job, like housekeeping, customer service, or warehouse work. So if you want a boring job, don't clean yourself up before the interview, because you'll have better odds than someone who looks like they should be starring on a TV drama called Hospital Doctors or Police Cops.
This trend appears to come from the assumption that attractive people expect better outcomes in their lives, and thus would soon grow dissatisfied with mundane work. If you look like your only prior work experience was ringing church bells while hiding from the taunts of villagers, then it's believed that you'll be happy to keep whatever work you can get. But if you have a chiseled face, then people think that you're only making do until you get an executive position and/or your own cologne line.
That's not necessarily true, of course. Plenty of conventionally unattractive people are professionally ambitious, and many attractive people are, for all sorts of different reasons, happy to keep whatever job is giving them a steady paycheck. But there's a subconscious bias that can screw over everyone, and one that we should find a way to combat without having to tell interviewers "Remember, hot people can be bozos lacking ambition too!"
Attractive People Are Hired For Collaborative Jobs, While Unattractive People Are Hired For Competitive Jobs
In keeping with the theme of studs being competent trailblazers while duds should just be happy that society is finding a use for them instead of leaving them in the wilderness to die, attractive people are more likely to be hired if they're viewed as someone to collaborate with, while unattractive people are more likely to be hired if they're viewed as competition. Because if you're competing to, say, sell more trucks over the course of a year, we view the guy with a face that only a blind mother could love as less of a threat to our success.
This study only applied to men, and it was an experimental setting, but it was more evidence for what's long been assumed true: that an attractive man is inherently viewed as competent and ambitious, while an unattractive one doesn't get that same benefit of the doubt. This wasn't even supermodels versus dungeon ghouls, but more like sevens against fives. We feel compelled to hitch our wagons to sexy trains, because we think that they're going places and can take us with them. We are all subconsciously considering what someone's hot bod can do for our own careers.
Again, the solution isn't to just say "You need to suck it up and work with that butterface!" or "Don't worry, they're not as talented as they look!" But if we start from the default but inaccurate assumption that attractive people are more competent, then we're going to make what we think is a logical decision which instead leads us even further astray. And that's both bad for everyone's careers, and a logical flaw that explains the vast majority of human behavior that irritates you.
Women Are More Likely To Get A Job Interview If Their Photo Has A Low Neckline
In some countries, it's common to include a photo with your resume, regardless of the job you're applying for. If that sounds like a terrible system to you, then you would be absolutely correct. A French study found that women were four times more likely to receive an interview for an accounting job (and five times more likely to receive an interview for a sales position) if their photo featured a lower neckline. And we're not talking nun's habits compared to bikinis, but functional, "not provocative" professional clothing that also happens to serve as a simple reminder that hey, this person has boobs.
The results make some measure of sense for jobs that involve public interaction, like sales, because we still associate those roles as requiring attractive people. But it makes less sense for an office job -- at least, until you learn that 75 percent of the recruiters for the accounting position were men. (Men who were apparently lonely, despite the raw sexual thrill normally offered by accounting.)
This study had some, ahem, size limitations, but it's a compelling argument for ending the practice of including photos with resumes. In this day and age, candidates should be judged solely on their ability to strategically exaggerate their qualifications while selling blatant lies, like claiming that they're "passionate about enhancing strategic value."
Taller Men Earn More, Overweight Women Earn Less
Try to subdue your shock here, but society tends to favor tall men and thin women. But the University of Exeter wanted to determine just how much of an advantage they get, and they found bad news for any man who desperately rounds up to six feet on their dating profile. For every three inches taller men are, they make an average of $2,000 more per year, while for every 14 extra pounds (or one stone, in whatever Britain's Hogwarts measurement system is) a woman weighs, they will lose out on $2000 a year. That means that over a lifetime, a six-foot man will make nearly $100,000 more than a five-foot-nine colleague.
The study accounted for education, upbringing, and so on, and in doing so, it flipped a common assumption around. People who are shorter and heavier don't fare poorer in life because they had a lousy, malnourished background; they fare poorer simply because society tends to look at them and say, "Eh, they probably don't need that much money to pay for what we assume is their hobby of knitting sweaters for the cats that are their only company in their cold, lonely apartment."
Yes, there are DeVito-sized exceptions, but on average, being a shorter man or a heavier woman limits your opportunities. Employers prefer tall men -- it's established that big shots in the business world tend to be taller -- and it's also possible that shorter men and overweight women are likelier to suffer from low self-esteem because of, you know, living in a society that says overweight women are hideous and short men are impotent little balls of rage.
And no, we're not saying that evil managers are getting together to plot against the short and the fat, but when you're bombarded with implications about certain body types from birth, it's impossible not to be influenced by them. At least we at Cracked are doing our part to combat society's stereotypes by not making much money despite looking like a gaggle of modern Adonises.
For more, check out The Scientific Reason You Want To Have Sex With Jessica Rabbit:
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