Fem Hiring Jealousy

I’d always wondered why men get a higher wage premium than women for good looks.  Now we learn jealousy by women in charge of hiring seems a likely explanation:

Job applicants in Europe and in Israel increasingly imbed a headshot of them- selves in the top corner of their CVs. We sent 5312 CVs in pairs to 2656 advertised job open- ings. In each pair, one CV was without a picture while the second, otherwise almost identical CV contained a picture of either an attractive male/female or a plain-looking male/female. Employer callbacks to attractive men are significantly higher than to men with no picture and to plain-looking men, nearly doubling the latter group. 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. We explore a number of explanations and provide evidence that female jealousy of attractive women in the workplace is a primary reason for the punishment of attractive women.

For every additional point a judge assigns to a photographed person’s beauty, the judge rates the same person’s intelligence .29 points higher on average. This result is highly significant and contradicts the dumb-blonde hypothesis. … A female subject who is rated one point higher for her beauty is also perceived to be an extra .26 points more intelligent on average.

We asked each company surveyed to indicate what message is conveyed by a … candidate who includes a picture. … Thirty-six percent of the respondents reacted positively to males’ inclusion of a picture, invoking terms such “presentable” and “confident”. Only 28% of the respondents expressed negative associations for male photographs. By contrast, negative sentiments were the predominant response (56%) to females CVs with pictures. “Not serious” and “an attempt to market herself via her appearance” were among the reactions. A mere 12% of respondents expressed a positive association. These findings suggest that we cannot rule out the negative signaling story. … 93% of the [hiring] respondents in our sample were female …

We have presented a range of evidence that suggests that female jealousy is part of the observed and unexpected discrimination against attractive females. To begin, women mostly do the initial screening of CVs. When the hiring is done by the company in which the hired job candidate will work, these women discriminate strongly against attractive women and only attractive women, treating all other picture CVs similarly to the paired no-picture CV. Outside employment agencies in charge of hiring provide a control group. They differentiate significantly between the picture and paired no-picture CVs in all cases, with the attractive females being the only exception: employment agencies discrimination against attractive women is only weakly significant. (more; HT Dan Houser.)

So now that firms know this, will they still let female hiring folks discriminate against pretty female applicants?  Will the law and politicians allow such blatant unfairness to continue? Of course they will. But it is interesting to consider why exactly this will happen.

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