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Good looks can kill women's job chances: study

Beauty has an ugly side when it comes to job applications: it prevents attractive women from even being considered for some positions, according to a study published Friday.

Researchers found that good-looking women were unlikely to be hired when they applied for jobs considered masculine - like construction supervisor, prison guard, car salesperson or tow truck driver - the study published in the Journal of Social Psychology says.

Good-looking women did, however, have an advantage over their less attractive female counterparts in jobs deemed feminine.

Men, on the other hand, face no such beauty-barrier: good-looking men always have an advantage over less good-looking men seeking work, regardless of whether the job they are after is a seen as masculine or feminine.

The study researchers, led by Stefanie Johnson, a management professor at the University of Colorado's Denver Business School, asked participants to pair jobs ranging from lingerie salesperson to tow truck driver with photos of applicants they considered suitable for the job.

They had a stack of 55 male and 55 female photos, and the list of jobs.

In job categories like director of security, hardware salesperson, prison guard and tow truck driver, attractive women were completely overlooked, even though appearance was considered unimportant for the job.

Even in jobs where appearance was considered important - such as car salesperson - attractive women were ignored. Instead, they were slotted into positions like receptionist or secretary.

In a second study, participants were also given the resumes of the job applicants. But that changed nothing: the good-looking women were still ignored for the manly jobs.

The study's authors chided employers who let stereotypes and physical appearance influence hiring decisions, urging them to hire on merit.

But even though attractive women tend to miss out on some job opportunities, overall, it's good to be good-looking, said Johnson.

When they do get hired, beautiful people tend to get higher salaries, better performance evaluations, are more likely to gain admission to university, get better voter ratings when running for public office and more favorable judgments in trials, she said.