Generally speaking the more attractive you are the more you earn (see “Take me to your leader…“).
This is even true of lecturers and lawyers, professions where you might think expertise was more important, and what’s more people think you are also better at your job – an example of the “halo” effect.
It’s especially true for women who compensate for their lack of what you might call traditional skills to get to the top by utilising their feminine assets, what has been called “erotic capital“. So maybe it’s no surprise that many women believe attractiveness is more important for their self-esteem than job competence or intelligence.
However a recent study at the University of Colorado Business School, widely reported in the press, shows that women can be too attractive for their own good. Pretty women will always have an advantage in secretarial jobs and jobs considered feminine, or where there is face to face contact such as in sales or customer service, but in jobs where attractiveness is unimportant attractive women might as well not bother applying.
In jobs considered masculine such as security, truck driving, prison guard, hardware sales, and even some management jobs, attractive women were at a disadvantage and discriminated against.
Men will be pleased to learn that being good-looking is always an advantage for them and they are never discriminated against because of it.
It seems that the more politically correct we become the more research demonstrates that human beings aren’t always rational and we make decisions based on emotions more than we might like to think.
Updated 19 August 2010: Women’s salaries increased by 2.8% last year compared to 2.3% for men – according to a survey by the Chartered Management Institute. If women’s pay continues to improve at that rate women will have parity with men by 2067 -almost 100 years after the Equal Pay Act.
The average salary for male managers was £41,337, about £10,000 more than women managers earned (these surveys don’t seem to take into account the sectors where women work which may pay less than the sectors dominated by male managers).
This is also reflected at the bottom of the career hierarchy with junior male executives earning £22,253, just over £1,000 more than their female counterparts. There were bigger gaps in IT and pharmaceuticals at this level, over £3,500.
In the boardroom however it’s a different story. Female directors out-earn men with an average salary of £144,729 compared with £138, 765 for men.