A Few Extra Pounds Can Hurt Your Job Chances, Study Says, Especially for Women

job-chances

Getting soft around the middle may not just trigger a bout of self-consciousnesses — it could throw a wrench into your chances of landing a job. At least that’s according to a study recently published in the journal Plos One, which found weight gain can hamper a job applicant’s prospects, particularly if that applicant is female.

The team of Scottish and U.K. researchers, Dennis Nickson, Andrew R. Timming, Daniel Re and David I. Perrett, decided to explore whether a slight change in weight could turn employers off. What they found wasn’t pretty: “Employing a unique simulation of altering individuals’ BMIs (body mass index) and the literature on ‘aesthetic labour,’ the study suggests that, especially for women, being heavier, but still within a healthy BMI, deleteriously impacts on hireability ratings,” they concluded. Here’s how.

Methodology

In 2013, a group of 60 men and 60 women were asked to imagine themselves as company recruiters reviewing snapshots of applicants. Each photo showed four men and four women, all white and lacking expression, and at various, digitally enhanced weights. Though the various weights fell within healthy BMI ranges, the changes were apparent to the untrained eye. Still, participants were assured that the candidates all had ideal resumes.

faces

Image courtesy PLOS One

When asked to hire each, on a scale of 1 (extremely unlikely) to 7 (extremely likely), for customer-facing roles or more independent jobs, the “recruiters’ ” responses were striking. (Keep in mind, they were asked to go on their gut, unlike what most human managers would be advised, given legal precautions.)

Thinner faces were deemed more employable than fuller ones, especially for the customer-facing roles. What’s more, the ‘original’ versions received an average score of 4.84, while the corresponding heavier ones averaged 4.61.

Larger women received even more of a knock, being rated 0.66 lower on average, compared to 0.26 lower for men. “For women, it seems, even seemingly minute changes to the shape, size and weight of the body are important,” the researchers said.

The Takeaway

So what’s a woman to do? Countering societal expectations is hard enough, and women currently earn less than men, dollar for dollar. The gender pay gap for women of color and mothers is even worse, according to The American Association of University Women, a think tank focused on promoting equality and education for all women and girls.

Fortunately, you can research employers ahead of time to find ones that will judge you based on work and not on appearance. And you should always do your best to prove yourself on the merits of your work. Because some employers check a version of your credit reports during the application process, particularly for roles that require government security clearance, it wouldn’t hurt to get your finances in order. You can take steps to clean up your credit by pulling your credit reports for free each year at AnnualCreditReport.com and viewing your free credit report summary, updated every 14 days, for free on Credit.com.

Image: Jacob Ammentorp Lund

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These Are the Only People Who Can Afford the American Dream

price-of-the-american-dream

If you’ve paid any iota of attention to the ebbs and flows of the American economy, you know that the “American Dream” — the idea that given enough hard work and dedication, you can become a self-sustaining individual with a house and family — is out of reach for most. That description of the American Dream varies from person to person, but the general idea is that you can get the basics of a happy life if you try hard enough. But as we’ve seen over the past couple of decades, it’s an ideal that simply isn’t in the cards for much of middle-class America.

As for why it’s out of reach? There are many reasons. Incomes have stagnated, as wage growth has been choked. Jobs have been sent to foreign countries to capitalize on cheaper labor, and automation and technological gains have also led to job losses. Globalization is the biggest part of it, but there have also been regulatory and commercial changes that have significantly impacted the American economy.

Essentially, the prices of almost everything (front rent and mortgages to food) have gone up with time, and wages haven’t kept up. Purchasing power has eroded. And now, the price tag of the American Dream is higher than many people can afford. Thanks to a new study from The Red Pin, a Canadian real estate listing site, we now have an idea of the exact dollar amount required to achieve it, and who, exactly, earns enough to make it.

The American Dream, in Dollars & Cents

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Infographic via The Red Pin

As you can see from the above graphic, the total cost of the American Dream — per The Red Pin’s calculations — comes in at more than $3,500 per month. That’s a considerable amount, which means that a household would need to earn more than $42,500 annually (pre-tax) to get into the conversation. And, naturally, there is an incredible amount of variability in the associated costs from household to household, and location to location.

If you dig further into the study, The Red Pin does list out several cities in which the American Dream is much easier to attain. For example, if you’re striving to have it all in New York City or San Francisco, you’re going to have an incredibly tough time. But if you set your sights on other cities in the Midwest, for example, you’re suddenly in the ballpark.

But back to that $3,500 number — with two earners in a household, it’s achievable. Again, however, you have to account for who, where, and what they’re trying to earn. The average household earns around $54,000 per year, per government data, to put things into perspective.

Who Can Afford It?

American-dream-demographics

Infographic via The Red Pin

The chart above paints somewhat of an ugly picture, with only a handful of people (again, on average) able to afford the components to piece together the American Dream. If you’re a middle-aged man — specifically, white or Asian — you’re in the clear. Everybody else? The cards are stacked against you.

Clearly, there’s a lot of information packed into this relatively simple bar graph. It doesn’t take into account, however, the many factors that play into income inequality, access to education, environmental hurdles, etc. That would require a graph and report hundreds of pages long, so keep in mind that this chart is just taking the averages. There are plenty of people who are doing quite well and beating the averages. There are lots who are falling behind, however, as well.

There’s one thing that’s obvious from The Red Pin’s work, though: Things really only look bright for men between the ages of 35 and 64. Younger, or older than that? Not so much. Not white, or Asian? Tough luck. And that goes for women of all ages and races as well.

This article originally appeared on The Cheat Sheet.  

Image: Andrew Rich

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The Wage Gap Really Widens When Women Hit This Age

wage-gap

It’s no secret that women often make less money than men, but a new study discovered there’s a certain age when that problem escalates.

According to a gender equity report from Visier, a workforce analytics firm, the gender wage gap in America widens around age 32. The study found this is the time when women are earning 90% of men’s wages. That number decreases to 82% in just eight short years — by age 40.

“Every CEO should be looking at gender equity,” John Schwarz, Visier founder and CEO, said in a press release. “Countless studies have shown the equal economic contribution women make in the workforce, yet companies have struggled to achieve the goal of equity in compensation.”

According to Visier’s study, which used information from its database of 165,000 U.S. employees from 31 companies, the age of 32 is a time when men typically start being promoted to managerial positions and earning an average wage two times the wage of non-managers. This is also when many women leave the workforce, take time off for maternity leave or even face discrimination in promotion decisions.

The study points out that paying women and men equally for the same position is integral to closing the gender wage gap. But so is fixing what the study calls “the manager divide” by having a stronger representation of women in managerial roles, which could reduce the wage gap to 10% across all age groups, the report said.

How Income Affects Your Credit

No matter how much you earn or your role, your paycheck won’t directly affect your credit scores. But having more money coming in can make it easier to pay credit card debt or other bills you may have. This can help you maintain a strong payment history, which is a major factor in establishing your credit scores. (To find out how your spending and payment habits are affecting your credit, you can see two of your free credit scores, updated each month, on Credit.com.)

If you aren’t happy with what you see, there are ways you can work on improving your credit score. This can include paying down debt and disputing any errors you find on your credit reports.

[Offer: If you need help fixing errors on your credit report, Lexington Law could help you meet your goals. Learn more about them here or call them at (844) 346-3296 for a free consultation.]

 

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Image: annebaek

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