Women don't like to hire beautiful women

It’s official: women don’t like beautiful women. Science says so

Elizabeth Bromstein|

We’ve talked about this topic before but it bears revisiting, now that there’s been another study showing that if you are an attractive female, you had better hope the hiring manager who interviews you is a man.

Apparently, separate research shows that attractive women get more promotions than plainer folk and that good looking people make more money, but the new study shows that if attractive women include a photo with their resume, they’re substantially less likely to get an interview than less attractive ones. The findings support those discussed in my article Too Hot to Hire?.

According to the Economist, Bradley Ruffle at Ben-Gurion University and Ze’ev Shtudiner at Ariel University Centre looked at what happens when job hunters include photos with their resumes, as is the norm in much of Europe and Israel. The pair sent fictional applications to 2,656 real-life vacancies, 5312 in total. Two very similar ones were sent for each job, one with photo and one without. Subjects had previously been rated for attractiveness by eight judges, four male and four female.

Hunky dudes were way more likely to be called for an interview than less hunky dudes. The study abstract reads, “Employer callbacks to attractive men are significantly higher than to men with no picture and to plain-looking men, nearly doubling the latter group.”

The same was not true of women, however: “Strikingly, attractive women do not enjoy the same beauty premium. In fact, women with no picture have a significantly higher rate of callbacks than attractive or plain-looking women.”

Also, when applying directly to a company (rather than through an agency) an attractive woman would need to send out 11 resumes on average before getting an interview, while an equally qualified plain one had to send seven.

At first, Ruffle thought maybe people think beautiful women are idiots – what he calls the “Dumb-Blonde Hypothesis.” However, the photos had also been rated for intelligence and (as far as I understand it), more attractive people were actually judged to be more intelligent than their plainer counterparts, not less. So, the reason was likely something else.

Ruffle then notes that 93% of respondents from the companies were women, “as determined by their voice when they left a voicemail message, their name when they sent an email or by a discreet phone call to the company when there was any doubt as to the respondent’s sex.” Crafty!

Ruffle’s conclusion? Jealousy.

The paper explains that “Females in charge of hiring at the companies themselves may well be jealous of prospective female employees who are attractive and thus may compete with them for mates or at least the attention of male coworkers.”

Ruffle found that agencies did not punish attractive females in comparison to plainer females – only women who would be working alongside the attractive women punished them! “It follows that when the hiring decision is outsourced such that the female employers do not need to work near the candidates they hire, jealousy is aroused to a lesser extent and attractive women are not treated differently than plain-looking women.”

It’s not standard practice to include a picture with your resumé in North America, but almost everyone has one on LinkedIn (if you don’t, you look lazy), and potential employers will usually look at your Facebook. So, it’s not as though your appearance doesn’t come under consideration.

I said before that it seems unlikely to me that this bias is really harming the beautiful people as a whole. How many perfect tens do you know who are starving because they’re just too darned good-looking to get a job?

Still, this is mildly disturbing in what it says about women, no? Are we really that competitive? Please say it ain’t so.


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