TIME gender

I’m Beautiful, But Hire Me Anyway

Physical attractive ought not work against you—but in HR offices it might
Physical attractive ought not work against you—but in HR offices it might Johnny Greig; Getty Images

Employers often discriminate against attractive women. Here's why—and what the women themselves can do about it

It has ranked among the top ten irritating TV ads of all time. “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful,” pouted actress and model Kelly LeBrock back in 1980, tossing her hair coquettishly as she shilled for Pantene shampoo. What few people realized at the time was that the tag line came close to describing a real type of discrimination. It wasn’t in the form of jealousy from other women, as the commercial implied; that trope has never really held up to much scrutiny. But beautiful women do face other challenges; a study published just the year before the Pantene ad ran showed that attractive women often encounter discrimination when applying for managerial jobs—with beauty somehow being equated with reduced authority or even competence. The authors called it the “beauty is beastly” effect.

What the study didn’t address, says Stefanie Johnson, assistant professor of management and entrepreneurship at the University of Colorado, Boulder, is what women are supposed to do about it. Neither did a study she herself conducted in 2010 which showed that the effect applied to a wide range of jobs normally thought of as masculine.

But a new study Johnson and two colleagues just published in the journal Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes does tackle the question more directly. The improbable-sounding conclusion: if you’re beautiful and female, acknowledge it. Simple as that.

Well, not quite that simple. The research doesn’t suggest attractive women say straight out, “Yes I know, I’m gorgeous.” It is, says Johnson, “a little more subtle than that.” What she and her colleagues did was to recruit 355 students, male and female, and ask them to evaluate four fictitious candidates for jobs in construction—three male and one female. The applications included photos, and the female applicant was either unusually attractive or unusually unattractive—qualities evaluated by an independent crowdsourcing group.

In some cases, the attractive woman made no reference to either her appearance or her gender in the written application. In others, she referenced her appearance, but subtly, writing something like “I know I don’t look like a typical construction worker, but if you look at my resume, you’ll see that I’ve been successful in this field.” In still others, the attractive woman referred to her gender in a similar way (“I know there aren’t many women in this industry”), but not her beauty.

The unattractive female applicants did the same (although the “I known I don’t look…” part was may have been seen as a mere reference to her gender). In general, the “employers” tended to hire attractive women more often if they alluded either to their gender and to their beauty. With the unattractive woman, referencing gender directly made no difference—but referencing appearance made them less likely than average to be hired.

The study does have holes—rather gaping ones, actually. For one thing, the construction industry is not remotely typical of the field in which gender bias usually plays out. Like it or not, there is a real reason most construction workers are men—and that’s because they are, on average, physically larger than women and have greater upper body strength as a result. It’s the reason we have women’s tennis and men’s tennis, a WNBA and an NBA and on and on. As with the less attractive candidates in the study, the attractive ones’ reference to their appearance might well have been interpreted to mean simply that the typical applicant appears—and is—male. Johnson’s findings would carry a lot more weight if her hypothetical candidates were applying for the kinds of positions in which the gender wars really do play out—vice president of marketing in a large corporation, say.

Still, as a starting point, her research has value, and she does appear to be onto something. “What we think may be going on,” Johnson says, “is that the person doing the [hiring] has an unconscious bias.” But when that bias is brought to the conscious level, triggered by the woman’s addressing it head-on (sort of, anyway), it loses force. “Once you acknowledge it,” says Johnson, “it goes away.”

The takeaway message, she argues, is not that you should feel sorry for good-looking women, since attractive people, both male and female, have all sorts of advantages overall. “It’s more that we’re exposing a more subtle form of sexism,” she says. “People are still stereotyping women.” That, all by itself, is a form of discrimination, even if in this case it’s a form few people think about.

TIME gender

Microsoft’s Leadership Is Less Than 20% Female

Microsoft Corp Chief Executive Officer Satya NadellaSpeaks At Company Event
Satya Nadella, chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., speaks to students during the Microsoft Talent India conference in New Delhi, India, on Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The company released diversity numbers just days before CEO Satya Nadella was lambasted for dissuaded women from asking for raises

Microsoft’s leadership is only 17.3% female, according to diversity numbers the company released Oct. 3, while women make up less than 30% of the entire company as a whole.

Those numbers are coming under new scrutiny after Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella was the target of severe backlash Thursday night after he suggested women should rely on “good karma” for promotions instead of directly asking for a raise.

“It’s not really about asking for a raise, but knowing and having faith that the system will give you the right raise,” Nadella said at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing on Thursday. “That might be one of the initial ‘super powers’ that, quite frankly, women [who] don’t ask for a raise have. . . . It’s good karma. It will come back.”

Nadella apologized hours later in a tweet and a longer email to Microsoft staff, saying the comment was “inarticulate.”

According to the diversity numbers, women make up almost 45% of the non-tech jobs at Microsoft, but only 17% of the tech positions.

MORE: Microsoft’s CEO Tells Women It’s Bad Karma to Ask For a Raise

 

TIME Television

Here’s a Sliver of Good News About Women in Television

FRANCE-ENTERTAINMENT-INTERNET-FILM-TELEVISION-NETFLIX
"Orange is the New Black" cast members US actresses Laura Prepon, Taylor Schilling, Uzo Aduba and Kate Mulgrew pose during a photocall for the launch of Netflix in France on September 15, 2014 in Paris. Francois Guillot—AFP/Getty Images

A new study shows that prime-time television is still very much a boys club, but women are gaining ground in one key area

By now, we’ve almost become accustomed to the depressing figures about how few women are working in the film industry — and television is no different. In front of the camera and behind, the television industry is notoriously a boys’ club. But according to the 17th annual “Boxed In” study, conducted by San Diego State’s Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, which analyzes how many women are working in primetime television and was released Tuesday, there are some key areas where women are on the rise.

Let’s start with the good news: Women producers are on the up in television as this year women accounted for 43% of all producers on network television shows, an increase of five percent over last year. It’s also a 14% increase since 1997-98 (the first year the “Boxed In” study was conducted). Also promisingly, women made up 13% of all directors this year, an increase of one percent from the previous year and an increase of five percent since 1997-98.

Unfortunately, the report wasn’t all positive or even mostly positive about the current state for women in primetime television. This year, the number of women in writing and executive producing positions had decreased from last year’s figures. What’s more, only 20% of creators were women, a decrease of four percent from last year.

Women working in front of the cameras also took a hit, as women only made up 42% of all speaking characters and 42% of major characters this year, marking a one percent decrease from last year.

Though the television roles off-screen are less glamorous than the ones on-screen, the study also found the two are linked. More specifically, the higher the number of women behind the cameras often corresponded with a higher number of women in front of the camera. According to the numbers, when a program had at least one woman writer on staff, “females accounted for 46% of all characters.” Yet the number of female characters dropped to 38% when there were no women writers on staff.

While the above numbers only take network television into account, “Boxed In” did also factor in the number of women working in cable and Netflix shows. Sadly, those numbers don’t exactly offer improvements. Looking at broadcast, cable and Netflix together, women made up 40% of producers, 26% of writers, 21% of executive producers, 19% of creators and 13% of directors. (Though once again, producers and directors marked a marginal increase over last year’s figures.)

With the commercial and critical success of women-led shows such as Orange is the New Black and Scandal and Girls, it might be hard to believe that now isn’t a pinnacle time for women in the industry. Yet, according to the figures and Dr. Martha Lauzen, the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film, that’s simply not the case.

“For many years, women have experienced slow but incremental growth both as characters on screen and working in key positions behind the scenes,” Lauzen said in a statement. “However, that progress, small though it was, now appears to have stalled.”

TIME europe

Only Gender Quotas Can Stop the E.U. from Being a Boys Club

Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Newly elected President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker is congratulated on July 15, 2014, in the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France. Frederick Florin—AFP/Getty Images

The European Commission's president has asked that EU member states nominate female candidates. Here's why gender quotas are necessary

Gender anxiety is enveloping the top levels of the European Union. By the end of this month, each of the bloc’s 28 countries is expected to put forward their candidate to sit on the European Commission, the powerful body that drives policy-making and enforces E.U. law.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the Commission’s new president, has instructed member states to send female candidates, saying he wants more women in the top jobs. A social media campaign – #10orMore – is also under way to boost female representation at the E.U. to a record high.

Unfortunately, governments are not playing ball: so far only five countries have nominated women. Nineteen other nations have nominated a man, with four countries still to announce their candidates.

The goal of getting more women into top decision-making posts is simply common sense given that they represent more than half of the E.U.’s 507 million citizens. Right now this is not reflected by their visibility in politics, business or the media, meaning their interests are often sidelined.

The drive to change the status quo at the top echelons of the E.U. has attracted skepticism. On the Facebook page of Neelie Kroes – one of the nine women in the outgoing Commission and a co-founder of the #10orMore campaign – critics question why gender would qualify a person for one of the 28 commissioner posts.

Such knee-jerk accusations of tokenism greet most attempts to introduce gender quotas in politics or the boardroom. But while so many barriers stand between women and senior positions – and these range from sexism in the workplace, high childcare costs and the unequal distribution of maternity and paternity leave – quotas are one of the few measures that actually have an impact.

In 1997 the British Labour party introduced all-women short lists for parliamentary candidates in some constituencies. Later that year, a record number of women were elected, and Labour still has the highest proportion of female MPs in Britain.

Britain’s Conservative party, which formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, does not support all-women short lists, and a U.N. survey of women in ministerial positions earlier this year shows Britain languishing at around the halfway point, below Morocco and Cote d’Ivoire, with women making up just 15% of the cabinet.

There are other poor performers in Europe, with Greece, Cyprus and Hungary faring even worse, reflecting the problems Juncker is having in rallying enough women for his Commission.

At the other end of the spectrum, however, are Sweden and Finland, which are in the top three of the U.N. survey with over 50% female representation in their cabinets. France and Norway are close to reaching gender parity.

What the top performers have in common are long-term and often legislated programs to improve gender equality across society. In Sweden, political parties have since the early 1990s imposed voluntary quotas for election candidates. Norway was the first to introduce quotas for women on company boards, while France has legally-binding quotas for both politics and the boardroom. “Quotas are nobody’s first choice but where they are introduced they do improve representation, they do improve visibility of women,” says Clare McNeil, a senior fellow at the London-based Institute for Public Policy Research, adding that they work best when coupled with penalties for non-compliance.

Given the pool of female talent in the E.U., having just a handful of women in the Commission would be a pitiful performance. It is crucial now that efforts to increase female representation go beyond headline-grabbing promises. Juncker and the European Parliament, which approves the Commission, must make good on threats to reject the line-up if it is too male-dominated.

Hopefully quotas will not need to be in place forever. But right now Europe is so far from being a level playing field that radical measures are needed to kick-start lasting change in society.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson is a writer and journalist based in Brussels.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: August 4

1. Making the punishment fit the crime: A better way of calculating fines for the bad acts of big banks.

By Cathy O’Neill in Mathbabe

2. Lessons we can share: How three African countries made incredible progress in the fight against AIDS.

By Tina Rosenberg in the New York Times

3. Creative artists are turning to big data for inspiration — and a new window on our world.

By Charlie McCann in Prospect

4. We must give the sharing economy an opportunity to show its real potential.

By R.J. Lehmann in Reason

5. Technology investing has a gender problem, and it’s holding back innovation.

By Issie Lapowsky in Wired

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME gender

Study: Women More Likely to Be Lied to in Negotiations Than Men

Women are deceived more often than men by both men and women alike

Women who think they’re getting a worse deal in negotiations because of their gender have new scientific evidence to back up their suspicions.

Women are perceived as easier to mislead, and are more likely than men to be lied to during negotiations, according to a recent study from researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Pennsylvania.

“We found that in the role play, people were significantly more likely to blatantly lie to women,” the study’s lead author, Laura Kray, told Slate about one of the experiments. “To women, for instance, the buyer’s agents would say, ‘They will be luxury condos,’ but to men, they would say, ‘I can’t tell you.’”

Both men and women lied to women more often than men. In one experiment in the study, 24% of men said they lied to a female participant, but only 3% of men admitted to lying to a male participant in the exercise. Women lied to men 11% of them but lied to other women 17% of the time.

One of the study’s experiments showed that part of the reason women are lied to more often is that they’re perceived as being less competent but warmer than men in negotiations. The warmer a woman’s personality was in the study, the more she was expected to be easily fooled. But these aren’t exactly secrets — participants in the study, when speculating about other negotiators’ ethics, reported that they believed women were more likely to be lied to in negotiations.

“People are aware of stereotypes, and use them to their advantage when they’re motivated to do so,” Kray said.

TIME gender

My Gender-Neutral Childhood: Lessons in Raising Girls Who Succeed in Tech

Kira Makagon as a child Courtesy Kira Makagon

The co-founder of several successful startups talks about her unusual upbringing and how to inspire a love of math and science

Raised as the only child of Ukrainian immigrants, I never thought much about my childhood. It was certainly different from the way most of the other American kids I met grew up, and in a lot of ways, it seemed harder. (Imagine the wardrobe dilemmas of an immigrant teenager in 1980s San Francisco coming from a Soviet-bloc country, for instance.)

Lately though, I’ve been getting a lot of pointed questions about my upbringing: Did you play with Legos? Did you always love math? Were you allowed to study art, history and literature? The reason for the curiosity is clear. As a female tech entrepreneur in a predominantly male industry, people are interested in how my environment encouraged my academic and professional path toward technical learning.

More than ever, parents of young children are concerned about how to enable their children to succeed in a world where traditional occupations and industries have been upended by technology. Parents of girls especially worry that the best jobs will go to graduates who master science, math and technology education (the so-called STEM disciplines), which tend to attract more boys. We’ve all seen the media stories about the unemployed philosophy majors.

Recognizing that every child is different, I do believe that there are certain elements of my unconventional upbringing that prepared me to be comfortable and happy building a career in a technical field. All parents pour their hopes and dreams into their children, but I now know my parents invested in me in the right ways. From early on, they provided me with the right tools to continue developing myself as an older child, teenager and into adulthood. Based on my experience, below are my top five takeaways on how to prepare a child (and especially a girl) to be prepared for a technical career.

1. Choose gender-neutral toys.

My parents did not encourage dolls, and I didn’t gravitate to them. I liked Legos and building things. My father was an engineer who designed toys in Russia. He and I would build miniature models of houses. We built whole cities with railroads and cars. The floor of my room was always crowded with our playthings.

2. Encourage sports, and not just girls-only teams.

I liked all kinds of sports. When I was younger, it was bicycles, badminton and ping-pong. I was always fast — faster than most boys early on. I loved ice skating, and because I was very fast, I could play hockey with boys. For this reason, I always had a lot of friends who were boys. I grew up comfortable around boys, confident in my natural ability and with very little fear.

3. Treat your sons and daughters as individuals, not as gender stereotypes.

As an only child, my parents gave me lots of attention and treated me purely as an individual — not like a stereotypical girl. My dad treated me the same as he would any son. We played hockey together, and he took me to sporting events.

4. Emphasize the importance of leadership at an early age.

My mother, a Russian-literature teacher, encouraged me to be a class leader and participate in class (even if I found the lessons boring). She and I had long talks about leadership. She impressed upon me the need to excel in school. Even a B was unacceptable. I became class president in elementary school and learned to enjoy leading others.

5. Pursue music, chess and logic problems.

I practiced piano for two hours a day, loved the math olympiad and enjoyed solving logic problems in my spare time. These weren’t treated as nerdy or antisocial, but as valid and valuable pursuits to develop my mind and capabilities.

READ MORE: Cracking the Girl Code — Tech Giants Are Betting on Coding Camps for Girls to Close Their Gender Gap

Makagon leads product, engineering and operations teams at RingCentral, the cloud-based business phone company, where she is Executive Vice President of Innovation. She is a Silicon Valley–based serial entrepreneur who has co-founded several technology companies, including Octane (acquired by E.piphany) and RedAril (acquired by Hearst). Follow her @kiramakagon

TIME gender

Fashion Model Comes Out as Transgender Woman

Jean Paul Gaultier - Haute Couture Spring Summer 2011 Runway - Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week
Andrej Pejic walks the runway at the Jean Paul Gaultier fashion show during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week on January 26, 2011 in Paris, France. Nathalie Lagneau—Catwalking/Getty Images

Andreja Pejic was famous for her androgynous runway look.

Andreja Pejic, the famously androgynous Serbian fashion icon who has modeled both men’s and women’s styles, came out as a transgender woman on her Facebook page Thursday.

Pejic, who was known throughout her fashion career as “Andrej” but has changed her name to Andreja, posted a selfie along with an announcement that she said she hoped would inspire other transgender youths:

I think we all evolve as we get older and that’s normal but I like to think that my recent transition hasn’t made me into a different individual. Same person, no difference at all just a different sex I hope you can all understand that.

I would also like to to reach out to all young gender non-conforming youth out there: I know it’s hard, I’ve been there, but remember it’s your right to be accepted as what you identify with—you deserve the same respect as any other human being on this planet. As a transgender woman I hope to show that after transition (a life-saving process) one can be happy and successful in their new chapter without having to alienate their past.

The model told People.com that despite her long and successful career modeling both women’s and mens’s fashions, she opted to have gender reassignment surgery in order to identify as a transgender woman. “I was proud of my gender nonconforming career,” Pejic says. “But my biggest dream was to be comfortable in my own body. I have to be true to myself and the career is just going to have to fit around that.”

Like other major transgender activists like Laverne Cox, who was featured in TIME’s cover story on the transgender movement, Pejic declined to discuss the specifics of her surgery with People.com, saying that “what’s in between anyone’s legs is not who they are.”

 

TIME Toys

Your Barbie Can Now Slay in a Suit of Medieval Armor

Dungeons and Dragons and Barbie?

Barbie has plenty of pantsuits and party dresses, but her closet is still missing the one outfit she never knew she needed: A suit of armor. And even better, it’s not pink. Designer Jim Rodda launched a Kickstarter in April to fund a 3D-printed design of a medieval armor suit that’s specifically made for Barbie.

Rodda, who isn’t affiliated with Mattel, wants to make Barbie powerful by outfitting her with intricate battle suits and weapons in his new “Faire Play” battle set. Rodda designs and sells the 3D blueprints, so customers can print the Barbie armor on their own 3D printers. Fans are given the option to buy three different types of outfits: A robe with swords and a Barbie medusa-faced shield; a highly adorned gold suit; and a silver suit of armor.

Rodda says the idea came to him when he was coming up with a birthday gift for his niece. “Back when I started this, my niece was obsessed with My Little Pony,” says Rodda. “So I wanted to make My Little Pony compatible glitter cannons.”

Rodda struggled to 3D print a spring for the cannons, so he turned to the next logical thing in the “little girl toy market:” Barbie. The “Faire Play” battle set is a result of the successful $6,000 Kickstarter campaign that closed with 290 backers. “They are the ones who have actually made this thing possible,” Rodda says.

Barbie may have shown her strength in 1965 when she went through astronaut training, Rodda points out, or her business chops with Entrepreneur Barbie, but he thinks the popular doll is stuck in the past.

“The fashion-obsessed part of Barbie’s personality pervades the collective consciousness,” says the designer. “I think Entrepreneur Barbie’s a step in the right direction, but ‘Babs’ is still carrying a lot of cultural baggage from the last 25 years. People are still bringing up 1992’s ‘Math class is tough!’ debacle, even though Mattel released Computer Engineer Barbie in 2010 and Mars Explorer Barbie in 2013.”

The designer hopes his “Faire Play” set will help young girls learn about 3D printing and foster their interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). “Maybe she grows up to be the one that invents the solution to climate change, or helps get humans to Mars,” Rodda says, “or becomes the nest Neil deGrasse Tyson and evangelizes a love of science for another generation.”

Collectors and 3D-printing enthusiasts alike stand among the ranks of customers eager to see the warrior Barbie, says Rodda. Even Rodda’s daughter, who was, “never a Barbie kid,” is helping design the armor suits.

“If there’s a lesson I’d like my daughter to learn from this phase in Barbie’s career,” says Rodda, “It’s that girls can grow up to do anything.”

Blueprints for the “Faire Play” battle set are available for $29.99 along with other 3D-printed fun..

TIME Media

Jill Abramson to Katie Couric: ‘I Put Out a Terrific News Report’

The ousted editor continues her media tour

Former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson continued her postmortem analysis of what went wrong at the newspaper during another interview, this time with Katie Couric at Yahoo News.

Abramson, who was abruptly fired from the Times in May amid grumblings about her “management style,” told Couric that during her tenure she was more interested in the quality of the newspaper than in making sure everyone in the newsroom liked her. “As managing editor for eight years and as executive editor for three years, I put out a terrific news report,” she said. “And led the kind of journalism that I believe in. I am hard-charging, I was certainly aware that some people had already described me as tough. I have high standards…I think a lot of people who worked for me found that inspirational, some people didn’t like it. That is how it is at every news organization that makes a difference.'”

“I can scarcely think of an executive editor of the times that wasn’t described in the same way,” she added.

(MORE: Jill Abramson Insists on Calling Herself “Fired”)

But was her firing about gender? “I think that women are scrutinized and criticized in a somewhat different way and that certain qualities that are seen in men as being the qualities of a leader or ambition as seen as a good thing are somehow not seen in as attractive a light when a woman is involved,” she said. “And I’m hardly the first person to observe that.”

But when Couric attempted to drill down into the gendered aspects of her firing, Abramson said her record at the Times was more important than the details of why she lost her job. “I don’t see gender as being the whole explanation by any means… but it’s somewhat irksome to me to see so much focus on the issue of why was I fired. First of all, let’s be honest, how many people in the real world really care about why Jill Abramson lost her job?”

“I think the amount of attention that’s focused on my last days as opposed to the 11 years that I [ran the New York Times] everyday is just out of proportion,” she added.

 

 

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