gender differences

Are attractive women discriminated against?

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_DSC0291I’m re-posting this as it came up in the popular press recently (it can take journalists a few years to catch up on academic research).

Some researchers in Canada (a very PC country in my opinion) have replicated the research done in Israel a few years ago.

Men might think that women have the advantage when job-seeking if they are attractive but research from Israel, published by the Royal Economic Society, showed just the opposite in fact. 

Researchers sent out over 5,300 CVs for over 2,500 jobs. Two applications were sent for each vacancy – one with a photograph of either an attractive or plain person and an identical one without a photo.

Attractive women who sent in a photograph with their CVs were less likely to get an interview than plainer women who sent a photo and women who sent no photo at all.

For men it was the other way round. Attractive men who sent photos did better than the attractive women but plain men and those who didn’t send photos fared worse than their female counterparts.

Statistically it means that an attractive male only needs to send out 5 CVs to get an interview compared with the 11 a plain-looking male needs to send. Attractive women would be better off not sending a photo as it reduces their chances of getting an interview by 20 – 30%.

The researchers at Ben-Gurion university said it was a case of “beauty discrimination” which reflected the double standards in company HR departments. They checked and found that 96% of the people who screened the CVs were female, typically 23 and 24 years old , and 70% of them were single.

They theorised that these recruiters were jealous of any potential rivals in their workplace and rejected them instantly. There was less discrimination if the recruitment was being handled by an employment agency. Attractive women were no worse off than plain candidates and only slightly worse off than candidate who didn’t send a picture.

Professor Cary Cooper from Lancaster University Management School was more generous about the recruiters suggesting that unconsciously they might think that the less attractive women is the underdog and want to give her a chance. Nice thought Cary but what about the no-photo applications?

Sending photos with CVs is not common in the UK (unless applying for a job relating specifically to your appearance) but is in other parts of Europe. In Israel where the experiment was carried out it’s up to the individual.

In Lithuania our colleagues who are recruiters tell us that young people often send inappropriate pictures with their CVs eg shots on a beach or other holiday locations.

Of course once you’ve got the job good looks seem to effect both men and women equally with unattractive people earning up to 15% less than their more attractive counterparts.

First posted on SGANDA

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My most read posts in 2014

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Screen Shot 2012-10-05 at 22.49.07My output on this blog was pretty paltry last year as I was busy writing elsewhere and tweeting (probably too much!)

However the number of countries in which my lists were read more than doubled to 85 countries, mainly the USA, the UK, and Brazil but also in Suriname, Belize, Lebanon, Qatar, Algeria, Sri Lanka, the Faroe Islands and China. So thank you for such an international interest.

For what it’s worth the most read posts on this blog in 2014 were:

  1. Thinking outside the box – literally
  2. MBTI typies – for the believers
  3. Empathetic introverts make the best carers
  4. Learning to become an optimist
  5. Using social media impacts on academic performance
  6. Mentally challenging jobs are good for you
  7. Can scientists really change your memories
  8. Were the Victorians really smarter than us?
  9. Your partner’s personality adds value
  10. End of the road for Positive Psychology at work? jointly with Gender differences in responding to stress

Women who have power at work are at risk of poorer mental health………….

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Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Women who have power at work are at risk of poorer mental health than women further down the career ladder, a study has found. Researchers found that while men tend to feel better the more authority they have, the reverse is often true for women.

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‘Women with job authority – the ability to hire, fire and influence pay – have significantly more symptoms of depression than women without this power,’ said Tetyana Pudrovska, of the University of Texas, who carried out the study.

 ‘In contrast, men with job authority have fewer symptoms of depression than men without such power.

‘What’s striking is that women with job authority in our study are advantaged in terms of most characteristics that are strong predictors of positive mental health,’ she added. ‘These women have more education, higher incomes, more prestigious occupations, and higher levels of job satisfaction and autonomy than women without job…

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Guess what girls? Men are from Venus too!

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Kindadukish's Blog - I am not a number, I am a free man (The Prisoner)

Forget the theory that men are from Mars and women from Venus – our brains are the same, an expert insists. Neuroscientist Professor Gina Rippon says the sexes are not ‘hardwired’ in different ways and there is no evidence that men are innately better at reading maps or that women are better at multi-tasking.

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Any difference is due to society’s idea of gender, not to biology, and is deterring a generation of women from becoming scientists, she warns.  Professor Rippon, of Aston University, Birmingham, said differences in the brain are formed in childhood by divisions in the games girls and boys play and stereotypes they conform to. The scientist said the human brain is much more malleable than we think.

She highlighted recent research which showed that women given a Tetris console game to play for three months displayed fundamental changes in their brain structure.

The Californian study found that women who…

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Gender differences in responding to stress

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giving_hug_pc_1600_wht_3332A recent blog post from Psyblog piqued my interest. It referred to the research by Tomova et al published in Psychoneuroendocrinology.

The researchers thought that stress would make everyone self-centred because when we’re stressed we don’t have the cognitive resources to think of others.

In other words when we’re stressed we become more egocentric and only think of ourselves. This reduces the cognitive load and we would be expected to be less empathetic.

But this was only true for men not women.

The experiments required the participants to judge others’ emotions, try to think from another person’s perspective, and try to imitate body movements.

Men performed these things worse when put under stress.  The opposite was true of women.

The authors , Lamm and Silami were unable to explain the reasons for the different outcomes. They thought women mighty internalise social support and have learned that this is better when they interact with others.

Oxytocin might also play a part as previous research suggests that under stress conditions women had higher levels of it than men.

When I read this it rang a bell. I remembered a suggestion that rather than having a “fight or flight” response to stress women adopted a “tend and befriend” approach.

I found the reference in an article in the APA Monitor on Psychology from January 2004.

Shelley Taylor, a psychologist at the University of California, who along with a number of colleagues developed the model, proposed that in stressful situations females protect themselves and their young through nurturing behaviours (tending) and forming alliances with larger social groups of women (befriending).

She published her model in Psychological Review (Vol 107, No 3 in July 2000).

Males by contrast show less of a tendency towards “tending and befriending” and were more likely to stick to the “fight or flight model”.

The model was based on research into non-human animals, neuroendocrine studies, and social psychology.

Most of the research on stress responses has been in males but women, as the primary caregivers, can’t always respond in the same way – even though they may have the same initial reaction. Females can’t just flee and leave their offspring at risk.

Oxytocin probably plays a key part as it enhances relaxation, reduces fearfulness,and decreases the stress responses typical in a “fight or flight” response. Males are more influenced by androgen hormones such as testosterone linked to hostility.

Oxytocin also promotes care-giving and underlies attachment between mother and child. Some studies have shown that mothers tend to be more caring when they are under stress.

As far as the befriending is concerned females prefer to be with others in stressful situations whereas males don’t. Generally women are more likely to reach out for social support in all types of stressful situations including health worries and conflict at work.

The researchers were keen to point out that we shouldn’t gender stereotype these responses and males might find it equally useful to use the “tend and befriend” strategy as part of a repertoire of responses which includes affiliation.

Sources: Psyblog and APA Monitor on Psychology January 2004