Do You Have To Be Pretty To Seem Competent?

comments

The XX Factor book embedPhoto: Courtesy of Profile Books.
Have you got The XX Factor? According to Professor Alison Wolf, an economist at London’s King’s College, that has a lot to do with whether or not you have a pretty face.

In her latest book, The XX Factor, Wolf suggests that most people respond to beauty on a subconscious level, and that our instincts lead us to believe that good-looking people are superior and more successful. This innate bias means that beautiful people are provided with opportunities to earn significantly more than others. The "hot-to-not hierarchy" that Wolf explores even has its own terminology — for instance, “pulchronomics” is the word she uses to refer to the link between power and beauty.

But, wait. Whatever happened to the idea that beauty is only skin deep? Wolf explains that attractive people give off an impression of general “fitness” and good health. “People seem to read obesity as a sign of lack of control,” she says. “I think it’s worse for women, they get penalised more than men.”

But, Beauty Pays author, Professor Daniel S. Hamermesh, disagrees. He suggests that men experience a more looks-based pay gap than women. Clearly, the topic is up for debate. So, what do you think? Have you ever experienced discrimination at work based on the way you look? (London Evening Standard)