THE PROOF: Little Ladies and Big Dudes Make More Money

by Darwin on June 19, 2011

I’ve stated before that looks matter in the workplace (even though they shouldn’t) and here’s the study to prove it.  This controversial paper hit the web last week and essentially the following conclusions were reached:

  • Women that are 25 pounds below average make $15K Per Year More
  • Men that are 25 Pounds below average actually make $8K LESS Per Year
  • Many factors were normalized and accounted for like education, industry, race, height, etc.

It may seem shocking to see, well, first of all, that weight matters at all in salary outcomes, but secondly, that males and females have an opposite result.  The thinking (the mainstream media’s opinion, not mine), is that very skinny men are viewed as “afraid, sad, weak, and sick” whereas bigger dudes are viewed as ” brave, healthy, smart…”.  And you’ve probably already heard what society does to overweight women.

When I think about leaders in my company, like VP and up, I’ve gotta say, I see the trend!  Many of our female leaders are very fit, even at an older age.  Guys?  It doesn’t seem to matter.  I used to see this in the car insurance company I worked for in college as well – same pattern! How about our political leaders?  Aren’t female politicians that win elections usually somewhat thin?  Guys often are as well, but there are surely more overweight males in office than females.  They’re usually taller, but as far as weight, they’re all over the place.  I guess there are subtle human discriminating factors that influence opinions and such that ultimately result in the little ladies and bigger dudes getting the best opportunities.

I dunno, maybe it’s also somewhat a function of confidence?  Contrary to Financial Samurai’s contention that overweight people are confident and that they just don’t care, I believe it’s the opposite.  I think very fit men and women probably have higher confidence and thus, end up getting more “exposure”, more key roles, more promotions, etc.  And overweight men, which seem to benefit in the study as well, perhaps just don’t care as much since society doesn’t seem to frown upon overweight males nearly to the degree that overweight females are treated.    Should guys kick back and make women feel self-conscious that they need to be losing weight to fit in?  This is all conjecture and there may be other causes.  But I’m an analytical guy, and call me guilty of confirmation bias, but seeing actual hard data in this study did confirm my suspicions.

What Say You?  Should Looks Matter?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

krantcents June 19, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Do looks matter? Absolutely! Should they be so influential to make a difference.? No! I want to be evaluated based on performance and I am in favor of evaluating others on performance too. I wonder how many managers are affected by their employees looks?


Darwin June 20, 2011 at 8:34 am

It’s crazy to think how prominent it is and how much extra money it translates into! And in this study, it didn’t even contemplate actual “attractiveness” but simply just body weight. So, I guess even small ugly women do better ?!


Miss T @ Prairie Eco-Thrifter June 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm

I agree. I think it is horrible how much looks influence our current society as a whole- including in the job area. I think people should be evaluated on the type of person they are and what they accomplish, not how good looking they are. Plus attractiveness is very subjective so evaluating with it does not make sense.


retirebyforty June 20, 2011 at 11:46 am

That’s surprising about the men! Did they say what is average? If average is like Obama, then yeah 25lb below that would look sickly.


Darwin June 21, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I dunno, since most Americans are overweight or obese, perhaps 25 below average is actually pretty fit (for guys at least).


101 Centavos June 26, 2011 at 6:01 pm

Makes sense to me. Looks do matter, if not consciously, then unconsciously. People will react to physical types, and ones that are unattractive according to current norms will elicit a negative reaction, and consequent impact.


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