Weight Affects Women's Chances of Employment

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Does your weight affect chances of you landing that next job?

It might if you’re a woman, according to a study in the journal Economics and Human Biology.

Consistent with previous research in Europe and the United States, an analysis in Iceland suggests that a woman’s weight may be more likely to influence her ability to gain employment when compared to results from male respondents. Other research supports that body weight affects employment for men, too, but the trend is not as pronounced as in women.

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Based on 1,062 male and female questionnaires, researcher Tinna Laufey Asgeirsdottir pieced through other variables usually thought to influence employment, including education, nutrition, gender, age, health habits and marital status. An indirect measure of body mass index (BMI) was calculated by using respondents’ weights and heights.

The researcher found that the probability of being employed drops as body weight and BMI rise among both sexes, but the findings were more common for women.

Culture can influence gender discrimination, but the author writes that Iceland provides a unique atmosphere where sex equality is so high that citizens elected the world’s first female president in previous decades.

But the results don’t imply causation either, as it’s problematic to assume that body weight dictates a person’s success in the workplace.

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The author hypothesizes that hiring discrimination, “productivity differences between obese and non-obese women” and incentives to participate in a given job may help explain the findings.

Even then, what if weight discrimination increases productivity for a company? Do overweight job applicants approach jobs with less confidence than other candidates? Would phone interviews be a better way of interviewing for jobs?

It’s likely there’s more to this trend than weight alone.

Photo by mirimcfly/Flickr.com

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