Men are big and strong, and Women are skinny. That’s how it should be, right? Unfortunately, that’s how it has to be if you want to earn a fair salary.
According to a recent study, men who are skinnier than average earn less money than normal-weighted men, while thin women get paid more than other average-sized women.
Timothy Judge and Daniel Cable researched the study, published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. Based on their findings, thin men made about $8,000 less than their “normal” coworkers. Men were rewarded for being heavier until they reached the point of obesity.
Thin women (25 pounds below the average) made $16,000 more than average-sized women. Women who were 25 pounds more than the average earned $14,000 less.
Teresa Rothausen-Vange, a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, said:
Employers don’t purposely think of these things when they’re evaluating a person. They don’t say “OK, this woman is skinny, I’m going to give her a raise.” But research has shown that if you have two résumés, if all other qualifications make the candidates equal, the more physically attractive one—whether it’s a skinny woman or a muscly man—will have the leg up.
In the study, the researchers cite examples of obese workers who were considered “undisciplined, dishonest and less likely to do productive work.” They also pointed out that values like positivity and hard work were associated with thin individuals.
I’m assuming they meant “thin women.” Because if those attributes were associated with skinny dudes, why would they be making less money?
I guess none of this should be all that surprising, though. It’s the idea that’s been beaten into our heads for what seems like forever: men have to be brawny and built, while women need to be thin and fit.
According to the story in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, awareness for this problem is growing. Marshall Tanick, an attorney in the Minneapolis-area, is hosting a conference about how weight and appearance can lead to unfair treatment and salaries in the workplace.
While there are no laws protecting workers from being discriminated against based on their size, five years ago the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission began recognizing the claims of overweight workers “if they were backed with some legitimate emotional, genetic, or physiological reasoning that brought the claim under the umbrella of the Americans With Disabilities Act.”
Still, no average-sized woman or skinny guy has a shot at getting better pay because of discrimination. “That would be an uphill battle,” Tanick said.
But why is that? Shouldn’t a skinny guy have just as much of a case for a discrimination suit as an obese man? If obesity is being recognized as grounds for discrimination, why can’t the other extreme make the same claim? Let us know what you think.