According to Traci Sitzmann, management professor at the University of Colorado Denver, outward appearance can make a difference in how a woman is perceived at work. At the same time those observations are capable of hurting women in the workplace by producing discrimination.
Physically attractive women are frequently discriminated against when applying for historically masculine jobs. This phenomenon is known as the beauty is beastly effect.
She conducted three studies to examine effects of acknowledging appearance on attractiveness bias. Physically attractive women were rated higher in employment suitability when they acknowledged their sex or physical appearance was incongruent with the typical applicant for a job.
CNN Money found the study significant to women in the modern workplace. How a woman’s appearance affects her career is being discussed more than it has in the past.
“We all have stereotypes of what it means to be a brunette, what it means to be a redhead versus a blonde,” she says. “The problem is you want women to go to work … and rise to the upper echelons of the organization. Not to sit there and manage their hair color.”
Throughout the study, acknowledgement was performed in situations where the beauty is beastly effect. This resulted in reduced perceptions that these females possessed counter communal traits.
Previous to this study, no established techniques for reducing discrimination against attractive women applying for historically masculine jobs were tested. This provides evidence that the recognition of a stigma in the workplace through verbal acknowledgement can reduce its negative effects.
“The more time and resources you’re devoting to your hair color and what you wear and how people perceive you… the less time you have to think about work and hone those skills that are actually necessary to rise to the top of the organization.”