Consider the following: over his career, a good-looking man will make some $250,000 more than his least-attractive counterpart, according to economist Daniel Hamermesh; 13 percent of women, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (and 10 percent of men, according to a new NEWSWEEK survey), say they’d consider cosmetic surgery if it made them more competitive at work. Both points are disturbing, certainly. But in the current economy, when employers have more hiring options than ever, looks, it seems, aren’t just important; they’re critical. NEWSWEEK surveyed 202 corporate hiring managers, from human-resources staff to senior-level vice presidents, as well as 964 members of the public, only to confirm what no qualified (or unqualified) employee wants to admit: from hiring to office politics to promotions, even, looking good is no longer something we can dismiss as frivolous or vain.If the above got your dander up, or you want more details, here is a series of articles on "Looksism Goes Pop".
Fifty-seven percent of hiring managers told NEWSWEEK that qualified but unattractive candidates are likely to have a harder time landing a job, while more than half advised spending as much time and money on “making sure they look attractive” as on perfecting a résumé. When it comes to women, apparently, flaunting our assets works: 61 percent of managers (the majority of them men) said it would be an advantage for a woman to wear clothing showing off her figure at work. (Ouch.) Asked to rank employee attributes in order of importance, meanwhile, managers placed looks above education: of nine character traits, it came in third, below experience (No. 1) and confidence (No. 2) but above “where a candidate went to school” (No. 4). Does that mean you should drop out of Harvard and invest in a nose job? Probably not. But a state school might be just as marketable. “This is the new reality of the job market,” says one New York recruiter, who asked to have her name withheld because she advises job candidates for a living. “It’s better to be average and good- looking than brilliant and unattractive.”
If you are outraged, you should know that 'beauty' is only one discriminator. Tall people get preferential treatment by society. People who dress 'for success' get preferential treatment. People with 'the right accent' get better jobs and faster promotions. The younger, but not too young, have an advantage. Those who are better 'networked' get jobs more quickly. Etc., etc.
We are a hairy ape and we have a built in propensity for social hierarchy and the rules for "getting ahead" are mostly hard wired into us. Sadly, those with the short end of the stick are expected to just "lump it" and if they object, they will get bashed about the ears until they "learn their place". Sad facts about the human brute.
And the rules for 'winning' can be especially cruel:
Deborah Rhode, a Stanford law professor and author of The Beauty Bias, is herself an interesting case study. During her term as chair of the American Bar Association’s commission on working women, she was struck by how often the nation’s most powerful females were stranded in cab lines and late for meetings because, in heels, walking any distance was out of the question. These were working, powerful, leading women, she writes. Why did they insist on wearing heels? Sure, some women just like heels (and still others probably know their bosses like them). But there is also the reality that however hard men have it—and, from an economic perspective, their “beauty premium” is higher, say economists—women will always face a double bind, expected to conform to the beauty standards of the day, yet simultaneously condemned for doing so.And this:
But today’s working women have achieved “equality” (or so we’re led to believe): they dominate the workforce, they are household breadwinners, and so they balk at having to subvert their sexuality, whether in the boardroom or on the beach. Yet while the outside-work milieu might accept the empowered yet feminine ideal, the workplace surely doesn’t. Studies show that unattractive women remain at a disadvantage in low-level positions like secretary, while in upper-level fields that are historically male-dominated, good-looking women can suffer a so-called bimbo effect. They are viewed as too feminine, less intelligent, and, ultimately, less competent—not only by men but also by their female peers.