Study highlights ‘unsettling’ gender inequality in recruitment

A “deeply unsettling” study carried out by a UK university has suggested that, when applying for jobs, women are more likely to face ‘weight-based discrimination’ than men.

According to reports, the study, conducted by Strathclyde University, found that both men and women were likely to face weight-based discrimination during the recruitment process– but that discrimination against women was far more likely.

Professor Dennis Nickson, of Strathclyde University’s Department of Human Resource Management, said: “Many organisations in the service sector, such as shops, bars and hotels, seek to employ people with the right ‘look’ which will fit with their corporate image.

“This study, though, shows how women, even with a medically-healthy BMI range, still face discrimination in service-sector employment.”

“A key element of a person’s look is their weight. Workplace discrimination against those of anything other than ‘normal’ weight is not new,” he added.

As part of the study, Professor Nickson asked 120 participants to ‘rate’ eight photographs of men and women on their ‘suitability’ for a customer-facing role.

“The results found that both women and men face challenges in a highly ‘weight-conscious’ labour market, especially for customer-facing roles. However, women faced far more discrimination,” he said.

“Ethically, the results of the study are deeply unsettling from the viewpoint of gender inequality in the workplace, highlighting the unrealistic challenges women face against societal expectations of how they should look”.

The news comes shortly after separate research from the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) found a significant rise in workplace discrimination against pregnant and expectant mothers.

70 per cent of employers told EHRC that they thought female job candidates ‘should declare pregnancy’ during the recruitment stage.