Posted by: kat848 | April 4, 2013

4/4 Beauty vs. Brains in the Working World

This week we read four articles on beauty and how it may help or hinder a women’s progress in a career. The research showed that generically if you are an attractive female applying for a feminine role your beauty will help you get the job. Whereas if you are an unattractive female applying for a masculine role this will help you get the job.

Beauty has been something to be admired for centuries. It always seemed as if being beautiful had no negative impacts other then being bothered by potentially creepy guys. I certainly never considered it a bad thing until reading the article about “beauty is beastly”. I suppose women are treated as flighty or unintelligent if they are pretty but why is this? Could it be because men see beautiful women as objects not as people? Or is it simply another stereotype influenced by sayings such as “trophy wives” and “dumb blondes”? When we see a less attractive female why is it our tendency to believe that they are intelligent? I think it has to do with believing that they must compensate in life for not being as pretty as others. Much like if you lose your eye-sight your hearing will improve, it is your body’s way of compensating for the loss of a sense.

Being pretty not only makes others downplay your intelligence but it also has a tendency to make women jealous. An article I found on Samantha Black depicts this possible turn of events as related to being too pretty.


  1. Its really sad to think that in order for women to be confident that they could get a great leadership position that there attractiveness plays a role in that. I have actually had a personal experience with promotion for a position at my work and the role that attractiveness plays in leadership. We learned in class and through our readings that more than not that attractive women are selected over that of non attractive women. Personally I think that looks is not what a person is but just something that is created by society to mean more than it should. Each person is beautiful in their own way and their personality, experiences, attitudes, and qualities contribute to that. I have worked in a retail department store for 3 years and I have reached a level in which I was offered a chance to be promoted to the men’s department assistant managerial position. Not being a very big department store I had gotten to know many of the associates on a personal level since I had been working there for a while. My manager (whom is a 28 year old male) constantly would make remarks to me about how pretty I was and that I looked a lot older than my age. I usually just shrugged off his remarks and would go about my way. This was all until I was selected to apply for the assistant manager position by the head store manager ( who is also a man). I was asked to come in for an interview the next morning for the position. Not aware that the male associate would have a say so in my new position, I went in confident as ever to give the interview my all. After a week the head store manager called me in to discuss my results and had notified me that I had indeed received the position! I of course was really excited but come to find out one of the main reasons as to why I was selected was because of my male manager. He had referenced that I should be hired because I was “attractive” and would draw attention to a lot of the male customers. Personally when I found out about this I was offended. The fact that I wasn’t just a employee but I at that point had become an image and object to customers to just look at. It was honestly disgusting. I discussed the issue that I had with my head manager but he didn’t seem to understand and thought that my manager had a good idea. In the end I quit my job, realizing that I was not meant to be in a place where my beauty was respected more than my opinions. I have never regretted the decisions and I think it is a great way for me to present my experience of being a women leader to others just like in this class.

  2. While reading this article, I couldn’t help but imagine being in this woman’s shoes. She goes about her daily life dreading being attractive, which most people strive to become. I think my favorite quote was “It was clear that when you have a female boss, it’s best to let them shine, but when you have a male boss, it’s a different game.” This quote particularly stuck out to me because the research says that if you are an attractive female applying for a feminine job your beauty helps you and with men, unattractiveness is helpful. I agree with the point about how female bosses want to shine (in the attractiveness arena) because women are very competitive. I had a friend come up to me the other day and tell me that she didn’t want to go to the bar with our other friend because our other friend was too pretty. In leadership, a female with a higher position, in a feminine job, wants to be top dog with attractiveness and with their skill set.

    I definitely agree with your idea of “beauty compensation by having intelligence”. People have been conditioned to think that we need to be better than the next person so if you don’t have beauty, you have brains and vice versa. One or the other will get you places in life and you just have to know how to use them especially in a leadership role.

  3. I think media makes another appearance within this topic. Movies, music videos, other types of media, do not support the idea of an attractive, intelligent woman. It is always the unattractive woman that is portrayed as the extraordinary genius. Molly Ringwald played pretty characters, and even if young viewers could relate to Molly’s characters, said characters were never geniuses. In “Sixteen Candles” I mostly get the impression that she is emotional and fickle; not my idea of an intelligent woman. In “The Breakfast Club” it is implied that because her character is the pretty one, Molly is and will only ever be a sexual entity in the eyes of the world. Influences like that cannot be removed, especially when they are backed up by similar influences.

    As sexual entities, attractive women are wanted. And it seems that being wanted is a human necessity. When a woman labeled as unattractive is placed next a woman labeled attractive, the unattractive woman will suddenly feel less wanted…and enter jealousy stage left. Unless human needs can be countered and eased, then unattractive women will always be jealous of attractive women. Although attractiveness is a perception, and even attractive people can feel less attractive next to other people; the human mind is based on perceptions, and if a woman perceives herself as less attracted and less wanted, she will be jealous. I am not sure if there is a way to combat though.

  4. I was really surprised by this article. Generally when I see pretty women, I assume they have it all together and could simply ask for anything that they wanted. It just goes to show how much we equate appearances with performance. I was actually rather surprised with how harsh the feedback was that she received from her female bosses and friends. Although I’ve been on the receiving end of catty comments before, I’ve never experienced anything that hateful ever.
    I was actually rather surprised that she stayed with some of those organizations as long as she did. She obviously is charismatic and driven to succeed, yet she chose to stay in those awful situations. I think that if your coworkers and bosses are so unethical as to demean you in front of others, then you should not be working there at all. Although it may seem idealistic, I really do believe that people should work for organizations that share the same values as the individual. Obviously the places she was working did not value her work over the threat she posed through her looks, but did she really want to work at a place like that? As much as it is important to do what you love, I do not think it is wise to work somewhere that does not love you back.

  5. It’s unfortunate that when it comes down to two equally qualified females for a certain job, the more attractive woman could get the job (especially if a male is doing the hiring) instead of the less attractive woman, solely based on her looks. I am quite unsure as to why looks plays a huge role in society today, and being more attractive can be seen as an advantage in the workforce, and vice versa for less attractive individuals. Being attractive and your qualifications do not correlate whatsoever, and it’s sad to think that being more attractive can land you a job over someone who is more qualified, but not as appealing to the eye. Some women’s confidence level most likely lower when they feel like they have to compete with more attractive woman, and they probably begin to doubt themselves, and their abilities.

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