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”

Even the Thought of Earning Less than Their Wives Changes How Men Behave

By Dan Cassino * 

Masculinity is a fragile thing. Volumes of research in sociology and political science over the past 20 years have shown that men often react in surprisingly strong ways to what they see as threats to their masculine identities. These reactions are most visible in the political world, but they can take place at home and in the office as well, and can potentially contribute to a toxic work environment.

A notable recent example of how men react to a threat to their masculinity comes from a survey experiment that I carried out with my colleagues at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind poll. The experiment was embedded in a standard political survey with one unusual question, which asked married or cohabitating respondents if they earned more, less, or about the same as their spouses. Half of the respondents were randomly assigned to get this question early on in the survey, and half were assigned to get it only at the end of the survey.

Now, this question wasn’t there because we cared about the actual answers. We know that about 15% of U.S. men make less than their spouses do — a figure that’s highly dependent on age, with younger men being much more likely than older men to earn the same or less than their spouses. The reason we asked the question was to push men to think about potential threats to their gender roles. Being the breadwinner has been a linchpin of U.S. men’s masculinity for decades, so even the potential of making less than one’s spouse threatens accepted gender roles. Continue reading “Even the Thought of Earning Less than Their Wives Changes How Men Behave”