A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE has found that women who are perhaps slightly heavy are less likely to be hired in a customer-facing role than a clearly overweight man.
The study used 120 participants (half of whom were men and half of whom were women), and had them look at the photos of 40 strangers two times each. The participants were then instructed to rate whether they believed the candidates to be a good fit for jobs in which they’d interact with the public, assuming they were equally qualified.
The twist was that four of the men and four of the women actually found themselves in the photos twice. One of these pictures was with their face appearing as normal, while the other had their face photoshopped to look heavier.
The normal and altered faces were what the researchers were examining; all of the other photos were simply included to not tip off the participants as to the purpose of the study.
The altered facial photos of the women had a BMI of 24.06, which is on the high end of healthy, while the altered male photos showed men with a BMI of 26.47, which is considered to be overweight.
The results of the study were that while the participants were less likely to hire the women with the slightly higher BMI, they were just as likely to hire the overweight man.
It should be noted that the study only used the faces of white individuals, so perhaps future studies could examine the effect of race on this issue.