Right? The title of this post is a true statement. A woman can be a great performer, but she still needs to be attractive to find high success. This is a parameter for her male peers. Her male peer can come in with a beer belly and stain on his tie and no one cares. No one! That same performing lady comes in with a beer belly and stain on her tie, and well, that’s might be a little weird, but you get my point. She has to sell not only is she great performer, but she looks good doing it!
I grew up with an attractive mother. Don’t get creepy. I didn’t think she was attractive, she was my Mom, but I constantly had people tell me, “you’re Mom is attractive”. Which to this day I’m not really sure on how to respond, but with “thanks, she owes it all to the easy childbirth I put her through”. She was also a very successful business woman. But she would be the first to tell you, these things weren’t mutually exclusive. She always had to have her ‘A’ game on both in business and with her looks.
Oh, but Tim that was the 1970’s and 80’s, today that isn’t the case.
Is it ladies? Do you feel like your attractiveness plays no role in your perceived performance?
I can take a look at my own workforce. Some of the guys role in here looking like they took all of 10 minutes to get ready and find the cleanest smelling shirt. The females who work for me carry around ‘toolboxes’ of beauty products and always, I mean always, are put together. I don’t ask or demand this, but some how there is a perceived culture which makes this seem appropriate.
I’m sure there is a bit of competition going on. The ladies like to look good, especially when the other ladies in the office look good, and it starts a vicious little game to who’s more beautiful. Doesn’t matter if you’re married or single, young or old, almost all play the game. Guys don’t play this game. Guys play other games, just not the ‘I’m prettier than you’ game. This still doesn’t speak to why in our culture we expect both great performance and good looking when it comes to female performance.
You then have that big stereotype of the pretty woman who doesn’t perform, but still keeps her job. This is the traditional stereotype of women and performance. Oh, Mary is an idiot, but she’s beautiful so they’ll never let her go. I don’t think this happens as much, but I’m also not naive enough to not think it still has some impact. Pretty women will always get more chances to screw up, than a less attractive woman. Always. Not fair, but true.
Guys, especially those in leadership, will never bring this up. It’s a taboo subject. Being in HR I’m always amazed that the ones who will bring up this subject more than anyone are other female leaders. Guys won’t touch performance and attractiveness with 10 foot pool, but the ladies will! Female executives are some of the first ones who will speak about another female employee in the context of ‘she’s a good performer, but she holy smokes she’s a troll’ and then walk away like it’s completely normal!
So, I ask you female readers, do you feel your looks play a role in your perceived performance at work?