When beauty is beastly: The effects of appearance and sex on evaluations of job applicants for managerial and nonmanagerial jobs

Madeline Heilman, Lois R. Saruwatari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

To explore the idea that the career opportunities of attractive women are hindered by their appearance an experiment was conducted to determine the effects of both appearance and sex on the evaluations of applicants for managerial and nonmanagerial positions. As predicted, attractiveness consistently proved to be an advantage for men but was an advantage for women only when seeking a nonmanagerial position. This was found to be the case in ratings of qualifications, recommendations for hiring, suggested starting salary, and rankings of hiring preferences. Additional results indicated that attractiveness exaggerated perceptions of gender-related attributes involving work behaviors. Taken together, these data were interpreted as supporting the idea that the effects of appearance are mediated by fluctuations in the perceived fit between applicant attributes and job requirements. The implications of these findings both for organizations and for women who seek to advance their careers are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)360-372
Number of pages13
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Performance
Volume23
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1979

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Beauty
Salaries and Fringe Benefits
Organizations
Evaluation
Attractiveness
Hiring

Cite this

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abstract = "To explore the idea that the career opportunities of attractive women are hindered by their appearance an experiment was conducted to determine the effects of both appearance and sex on the evaluations of applicants for managerial and nonmanagerial positions. As predicted, attractiveness consistently proved to be an advantage for men but was an advantage for women only when seeking a nonmanagerial position. This was found to be the case in ratings of qualifications, recommendations for hiring, suggested starting salary, and rankings of hiring preferences. Additional results indicated that attractiveness exaggerated perceptions of gender-related attributes involving work behaviors. Taken together, these data were interpreted as supporting the idea that the effects of appearance are mediated by fluctuations in the perceived fit between applicant attributes and job requirements. The implications of these findings both for organizations and for women who seek to advance their careers are discussed.",
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