Two pictures that show a real problem in the workplace
Picture: Dennis Nickson et al/Journals.plos

A new study suggests that slimmer women are more likely to be hired by employers than their fuller-faced counterparts.

The study used pairs of images of men and women side-by-side. The first images were modified to create a slimmer face, whereas the second was made fleshier, with a thicker neck and more fat on the face.

Despite the fact that both images were within the healthy BMI range, when participating employers were asked to choose which they’d rather hire, they picked the woman with a slimmer face.

The same was not the case for men.

The researchers explained:

The study suggests that, especially for women, being heavier, but still within a healthy BMI, deleteriously impacts on hireability ratings.

The results of this experiment are deeply unsettling from the viewpoint of gender equality in the workplace. It was found that, in service sector employment, women on the upper end of a normal and medically healthy BMI range face greater weight-based prejudice than men who are clearly and overtly overweight.

The implications of the results are heavy, and confirm a very real stigma about the weight of women and how that prejudice can negatively impact on "women's life chances".

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