A new study has revealed the skinny on the relationship between women, weight and pay.
According to “When It Comes to Pay, Do the Thin Win? The Effect of Weight on Pay
for Men and Women,” a 2010 study published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, women who are thought to be “very thin” earn fatter paychecks — specifically, $22,000 more than their “average weight counterparts.”
The study, which The Huffington Post reports involved 23,939 participants, was conducted by Timothy A. Judge, from the University of Florida, and Daniel M. Cable, from the London Business School. In this study, the average weight of an American woman was 147 pounds whereas the average weight of an American man was 182 pounds.
The study also found that women who are considered “thin,” as opposed to “very thin,” earn over $7,000 more than their average weight counterparts, Forbes reports.
“This means that, all else equal, a woman who is average weight earns $389,300 less across a 25-year career than a woman who is 25 pounds below average weight,” the study reports.
Meanwhile, women who are regarded as “heavy” and “very heavy” lose over $9,000 and almost $19,000, respectively, than their average weight counterparts, Forbes points out.
As for weight gain, “very thin” women are punished the most for the pounds they put on, The Huffington Post states. The study shows that for American women who were below average weight, a 25 pound weight gain caused a $15,572 decrease in average salary.
“This finding is consistent with research showing that the media’s depiction of an unrealistically thin female ideal leads people to see this ideal as normative, expected, and central to female attractiveness,” the study reports.
But once women reach an average weight, more weight gain is reprimanded less, “presumably because the social preferences for a feminine body have already been violated,” the study states.
On the other hand, men who are considered to be “very thin” earn less than their average weight counterparts, The Huffington Post says. Until they become obese, men are actually rewarded for weight gain.
Along with this “gender and weight wage gap,” as TIME calls it, women already suffer from the gender wage gap.
According to Forbes, American women earned 81 cents for every dollar American men earned in 2010. While this is an improvement from the 76 cents women earned for every man-earned dollar in 2000, this wage gap still persists.
With the “gender and weight wage gap” to now consider, women are put at even more of a wage disadvantage.
Since weight usually does not play a role in an employee’s job performance, the study states, “it is troubling that average weight women and thin men are penalized in the employment context, whereas very thin women and men of average or even above average weights are rewarded.
“Thus, it may be possible and competitively advantageous for employers to try and recognize — and then reduce — the role that weight plays in their employment decisions.”
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