While it’s rare for a business to dictate a woman’s beauty regime – from ensuring she’s wearing lipstick on a daily basis or enforcing a ‘mani Monday’ rule – we’re often expected to keep up appearances regardless, and now a study confirms that not doing this could seriously affect your pay packet.
Sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner collected data from over 14,000 employees to determine a link between income and effort-based attractiveness. Older studies have suggested conventionally attractive people earn roughly 20% more than less conventionally attractive colleagues, regardless of gender. But Wong and Penner’s new research reveals that that women who are well-groomed in the workplace earn a significant amount more than those who don’t make the same effort.
Some may argue that in certain industries, especially beauty and fashion, it’s vital to put your best face forward, along with implying you’re organised individual. But the problem is, Wong and Penner found grooming didn’t come into play when it came to male workers’ success.
The amount women earn shouldn’t be influenced by what they put on their faces – it should be down to how well they do their job. Plus, what about the women who don’t want to get manicures, and don’t feel like putting a face of make-up on in the mornings? If a woman enjoys wearing make-up and is happy to put the time and effort into their appearance each day, then great. And again, it’s not unreasonable to ask employees to be presentable – they are representing the company, after all. But if you don’t have the time or money (on average, women spend 355 hours and £4,454 a year on make-up), or even the want to do this each day, what then? You don’t deserve a pay rise or more responsibility?
In light of this research, it’s obvious that women still remain on a back-foot in the workplace. We already know from the gender pay gap reporting data, collected earlier this year, that the pay disparity between men and women still looms large in many businesses, and unspoken rules and gender biases for things like dress code continue to dominate a woman’s position in the office. Just last year, a petition to ban sexist dress codes that dictated in some positions women must wear heels as part of their uniform was rejected, effectively meaning employers have the right to demand female employees wear potentially uncomfortable shoes at work. One company even made headlines by sending an female employee home for wearing flats to work and subsequently refusing to change into heels.
When such explicit sexism is at play in the workplace, is it a surprise that more subconscious prejudices start to slip through the net? It’s likely not a wholly deliberate decision of management’s upper echelons to pick the woman who wears make-up for a pay rise, but dismissing a woman because she doesn’t fit into what society deems a professional woman should look like, rather than whether she can do the job competently, mustn’t be commonplace. If you don’t want to wear make-up every day – regardless of whether you can’t afford to, or you simply can’t be bothered – this shouldn’t jeopardise your financial position or your career.
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