If you are looking for a job in the service sector, watch your weight! Researchers have found that even a marginal increase in weight had a negative impact on female candidates’ job prospects.
Women face weight-based prejudice at the workplace – even when their body mass index (BMI) is within the healthy range, the study found.
“Many organisations in the service sector, such as shops, bars and hotels, seek to employ people with the right ‘look’ which will fit with their corporate image,” said one of the researchers Dennis Nickson, Professor at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland.
“This study shows how women, even within a medically-healthy BMI range, still face discrimination in service sector employment,” Nickson noted.
In the study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, participants were asked to rate people for their suitability for jobs in the service sector, based on their appearance.
The study asked 120 participants to rate eight pictures of men and women for their suitability for jobs working in a customer-facing role, such as a waiter or sales assistant in a shop, and for a non-customer facing role, such as a kitchen porter or stock assistant.
Participants in the study were told that applicants were equally qualified and were shown faces that reflected a ‘normal’ weight and a subtle ‘heavier’ face.
“The results found that both women and men face challenges in a highly ‘weight-conscious’ labour market, especially for customer-facing roles. However, women faced far more discrimination,” Nickson added.
“We found that women, even within a normal BMI range, suffered greater weight-based bias compared to men who were overtly overweight,” Nickson noted.