Why women do their hair and makeup: Attractiveness and income

By Jaclyn Wong

Cross-posted with permission from Work in Progress here.

Is it possible to capitalize on your good looks?  The answer might depend on your gender, and whether you are “naturally” beautiful, or invest resources on your self-presentation.

Beauty is a valued trait in American society, and previous research suggests that physically attractive individuals are advantaged across many areas of social life.  For example, attractive students are considered more intelligent by their teachers, and are more popular among their classmates. Attractive women are more likely to marry husbands with higher socioeconomic status.  Even justice is not blind, as attractive criminal defendants receive less severe punishments than their unattractive counterparts.

Given these patterns, it is no surprise that attractive people also do better in the workplace.  Attractive job candidates are favored over unattractive applicants.  They are also more likely to receive better performance evaluations. As a result, attractive workers have higher earnings than average and unattractive workers.

But, is beauty an asset in the workplace for both men and women?  Beauty is a uniquely important part of the feminine gender role, but attractiveness may be less important for the traditional male role.  Thus, we might expect that attractive women are especially advantaged at work. Continue reading “Why women do their hair and makeup: Attractiveness and income”