Picture this: it’s 9am on a Tuesday morning and you’ve managed to scrape yourself out of bed, make-up-less and rumpled for the depressing fifteen minute walk to your university campus. Although you’re already running late, you decide that you’ll risk getting yourself a coffee before the lecture begins. After the sprint back to the lecture hall you’re red in the face, flustered and have spilled coffee all over yourself.
To make matters that little bit worse, when you go to sit down at the back of the hall, you’re sitting right next to a row of beautifully fresh, ironed, manicured students. They flick back their straightened hair, apply another layer of lip gloss, and you realise that, worse luck, you’re sitting next to the most attractive people on campus. Your day is officially off to a terrible start.Now, I’m not one to court controversy, but here’s something we can all agree on: some people are more attractive than other people. Although this might seem obvious or unimportant, attractiveness has a potential impact on our future graduate careers in ways we’d like to ignore.
According to Business Insider.com studies have shown that more attractive people usually get hired sooner, are awarded promotions more quickly and receive higher wages than less attractive coworkers.
With graduate jobs becoming more and more of a minefield – 47% of students are still living with their parents one year after graduation according to The Tab – is there anything desperate students can do in order to get these attractiveness biases to work in their favour, or is it all genetic?
Somewhat depressingly, the so-called ‘father of pulchronomics’ (the study of beauty), Daniel Hamermesh, argues in his book Beauty Pays that that there is not much we can do to better our attractiveness.
Even reaching for the make-up bag won’t necessarily help, according to The Smithsonian, studies suggest that for Americans, every dollar spent on cosmetics results in a 4 cent return as salary.
But even if you can’t change what your genes gave you, what is it that is scientifically ‘attractive’ anyway?
According to The Telegraph, there are a number of genetic factors which determine how sexy you are to other people. These include how symmetrical your face is, how long your ring finger is (in men, a long ring finger is said to indicate high testosterone levels), and the sound of your voice.
Apparently, men prefer high, breathy voices in women, and women prefer a lower pitch, as this indicates a larger body size. In terms of body shape, men prefer a waist-to-hip ratio of 7:10 as an indicator of fertility, and women like 9:10 in men, with a percentage body fat of around 12%.But even if you don’t fit this description – and, let’s face it, not many of us do – there is something all women can do to increase their attractiveness: dye our hair blonde.
Except there’s actually no point, as studies such as the 2011 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology found that brunettes generally are seen as more attractive anyway.
If you’re reading this and thinking ‘should I get plastic surgery to make my face more symmetrical and speak in a breathy voice like a small child?’ in order to boost your job prospects, there’s really no need.
Cheeringly, a 2006 study reported in The Smithsonian found that very attractive people are held to higher standards and hit with a ‘beauty penalty’ when they fail to reach these, whereas less attractive people tend to be rewarded for surpassing the lower expectations associated with them.
So basically, if you’re genetically attractive already, you might have a slightly easier time finding a graduate job. If you’re less so, you’re less likely to disappoint your employer in the long run.
It’s a win win situation, if you ask me.