Regular readers of our Milwaukee employment law blog know that women continue to face discrimination in the workplace. A new study reveals another layer of that unfair bias.
Researchers found that women who weigh even slightly more than peers are likely to be discriminated against in hiring. The study shows that those interviewed said that when qualifications are equal, they are less likely to hire a slightly overweight woman than a woman weighing less.
The Scottish study was published last month in PLOS ONE. It showed that “women, even within a medically healthy BMI range…face discrimination.”
Researchers asked 120 people to look at photos of 32 job applicants and rate them on suitability for two kinds of jobs: positions with customer interaction and positions without. Participants were told all applicants were equally qualified for the two positions.
Ratings were on a scale of 1 (extremely unlikely to hire) to 7 (extremely likely to hire). Half of the photos were of men and women who were shown twice; once with their typical appearance and once with digitally altered faces that made them appear heavier.
The digitally altered faces of the women were so that the women appeared to be within the normal range for their body mass index (BMI).
Researchers found that participants rated the heavier versions of the women as less desirable for hiring. The ratings for the heavier versions were even more negative when participants were selecting candidates for the job with public interaction.
The heavier versions of the women also fared worse than the heavier versions of the altered images of men, even though the men were altered to be “overtly in the overweight range.”
The study results might be unsurprising to many of our readers. Regardless, those who have experienced gender discrimination in the workplace can fight back with the help of a skilled employment law attorney dedicated to fighting for worker rights.