I recently read an article on Business Insider, the author was arguing that People are unconsciously sexist about how women should look at work .
I couldn’t help resist to comment on the article.
Speaking about people “who are unconsciously sexist about how women should look at work”, let me just remind you that we are in 2015 and that this article is based on a study dated 25 years ago, in 1990, additionally only 109 people participated to the study which is clearly insignificant .
There are numerous examples of women who are not “masculine” at all and have successful & powerful positions today in 2015, either in the business or political sphere.
Maryssa Meyer was pictured on the cover page of Fortune Magazine wearing a black fitted dress, Cristina Fernandez, President of Argentina, Hilary Clinton, Sonia Gandhi, Sheryl Sanberg…etc…
These women are not “masculine” but dressed appropriately for their position, mainly using plain & dark colors, no girly accessories. But don’t mix up being dressed up appropriately for a position or a task and being masculine.
How would you perceive or rate a man with a T-shirt versus a man with a shirt & a tie for a leadership position?
How would you trust a woman with a mini skirt versus a woman with a knee-high straight skirt for a leadership role?
Your analysis is too simplistic and unless you are unconsciously sexist yourself, I can understand why you came up with this study.
People are unconsciously sexist about how women should look at work by Drake Bayer
The clothes you wear have a profound impact on how people perceive you.
Studies suggest that formal dress makes teaching assistants look more capable, wearing thick glasses makes people look smarter, and well-dressed customer-service agents are more likely to score sales.
That’s all great.
But the gender implications of dress go even further — and grow toxic.
In her 1990 study, Auburn University professor Sandra M. Forsythe asked 109 respondents who worked in marketing and banking to watch four videos of female applicants interviewing for a management job. Applicants wore outfits with different degrees of masculinity.
For Forsythe, « masculine » dress featured straight silhouettes, angular lines, and dark colors — as in a dark navy suit — while feminine dress featured rounded silhouettes, curved lines, and light colors — as in a light beige dress.
The respondents rated each applicant on their management abilities and their hireability.
The result? The more masculine the clothing, the more likely the applicant would be recommended to be hired — regardless of whether a man or woman was making the recommendation. Coincidentally, the women who were more masculinely dressed were also seen as more forceful and aggressive — qualities that predict climbing the corporate ladder.
Forsythe’s study shows how cultural associations produce a bias in hiring. Masculinity is equated with leadership, so women who dress more masculinely are seen as better leaders.
Cultural biases show up in many contexts:
• Just holding a beer makes people look dumber, thanks to how closely associated drinking and foolishness are in our culture.
• People who wear white labcoats — associated with doctors and chemists — actually perform better on concentration tasks, showing that presentation-based biases don’t just affect the viewer, but the person wearing the clothes.
• Men who talk a lot at work are seen as more competent, while women who speak up at work are seen as less competent.
Frustratingly, more recent research suggests that the biases that Forsythe examined are with us today, especially in regard to gender. Female scientists with identical resumes to male scientists get lower initial salary offers, women are less likely to pursue « genius »-driven fields like engineering, and successful women are generally perceived as less trustworthy than successful men.
Maybe that’s why it’s still tall, deep-voiced men who are seen as CEO material.