Posted by: kelseywilson9275 | November 12, 2012

Does appearance matter?

“When a man gets up to speak, people listen then look. When a woman gets up, people look; then, if they like what they see, they listen.” -Pauline Frederick

Recently, in my sociology class we discussed the idea of appearance and authority, which tied in well with our recent discussion on appearance. Sociologists have found that the most attractive people are more likely to gain leadership positions regardless of what gender they are, but female leaders fall prey to the double-bind theory. The double bind theory says that females in authority postions are either attractive but dumb, unfocused, incompetent, etc. or competent but unattractive, unfeminine, unlikeable, etc. Whereas men are seen as more competent if they are attractive, women are seen as either competent or attractive but never both. What are your thoughts on this double-bind theory?

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Responses

  1. We talked about the way the attractiveness of an individual can increase their potential to persuade in my organizational behavior class. These concepts are rising up everywhere.

    I recently read an article that offered the same notion about attractiveness specific to women and politics. One excerpt read, “Prior research reveals that women are viewed as either feminine or competent — but rarely both.”

    Here is the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/29/opinion/femininity-and-politics-what-the-research-shows.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss.

  2. This topic alone is one of the main reasons I think we as a society will never be able to view leadership an ungendered. I believe this simply because it’s true – we see and then decide if we want to hear. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. Frustratingly, the media usually takes the role of the beholder upon itself, making physical appearance imperative in their judgement of leadership.

  3. This is interesting and for the most part I would agree with it. That’s why I found it strange that for my second interview, I was told that she had to downplay her looks in order to get heard because otherwise she wouldn’t be taken seriously…which actually makes sense in a way because isn’t it socially assumed that pretty = dumb and if you have the smarts you don’t have the looks? Obviously not everyone thinks that way, but the point my interviewee made was something along those lines.


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