Attractive women overlooked for certain jobs?

LOS ANGELES Mon Aug 9, 2010 12:22pm EDT

A woman walks across a street in New York September 17, 2001. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

A woman walks across a street in New York September 17, 2001.

Credit: Reuters/Russell Boyce

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Too hot to be an engineer or prison guard?

Good looks can kill a woman's chances of snaring jobs considered "masculine," according to a study by the University of Colorado Denver Business School.

Attractive women faced discrimination when they applied for jobs where appearance was not seen as important. These positions included job titles like manager of research and development, director of finance, mechanical engineer and construction supervisor.

They were also overlooked for categories like director of security, hardware salesperson, prison guard and tow-truck driver.

"In these professions being attractive was highly detrimental to women," researcher Stefanie Johnson said in a statement, adding that attractive women tended to be sorted into positions like receptionist or secretary.

"In every other kind of job, attractive women were preferred. This wasn't the case with men which shows that there is still a double standard when it comes to gender."

The study, published in the Journal of Social Psychology, was based on giving participants a list of jobs and photos of applicants and asking them to sort them according to their suitability for the role. They had a stack of 55 male and 55 female photos.

While the researchers found good-looking women were ruled out for certain jobs, they found that attractive men did not face similar discrimination and were always at an advantage.

But Johnson said beautiful people still enjoyed a significant edge when it came to the workplace.

They tended to get higher salaries, better performance evaluations, higher levels of admission to college, better voter ratings when running for public office, and more favorable judgments in trials.

"In every other kind of job, attractive women were preferred," said Johnson, who chided those who let stereotypes affect hiring decisions.

(Writing by Belinda Goldsmith, Editing by Dean Goodman)

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