Women wearing heavy makeup are less likely to be thought of as good leaders, according to new research.

A study led by Dr Christopher Watkins from the University of Abertay in Scotland has revealed that the amount of makeup a woman wears can have a negative impact on perceptions of her leadership ability.

During the study 168 participants judged 16 ‘before-and-after’ images (each featuring the face of a woman makeup-free and with makeup applied for a “social night out”) on leadership ability.

According to the study, all the participants evaluated the women more negatively as a leader in the images where they were wearing the makeup than in the images where they were makeup-free.

“Regardless of the participant’s sex or ethnicity, makeup used for a social night out had a negative effect on their perceptions of women’s leadership ability,” said Dr Watkins.

Dr Watkins said the research contradicts previous studies which suggested that wearing makeup enhances how dominant a woman looks – and therefore her perceived leadership ability.

The study however only compared makeup-free faces to faces made-up for a “social night out” – the ideal solution for most women may be the mid-point between both looks.

In 2016, the ‘Gender and the returns to attractiveness’ paper by Jaclyn Wong, a Ph.D. student in sociology at the University of Chicago, and Andrew Penner, an associate professor of sociology at the University of California, found that “physically attractive individuals have higher income than average individuals” and that “well-groomed people earned more money than poorly groomed people”.

The paper was based on data and interviews with 14,600 adults tracked during the US’s National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health from 1994 to 2008.

During the study participants were regularly rated as unattractive, average, attractive or very attractive as well as poorly groomed, average grooming, well groomed or very well groomed. This data was then matched with other information on the participants including their annual incomes.

Wong and Penner concluded “that attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness, but this gap is reduced when controlling for grooming, suggesting that the beauty premium can be actively cultivated”.

In short, when people are equally attractive the well-groomed ones will earn more than  their poorly groomed counterparts.

“For both men and women, grooming matters more than attractiveness: Being attractive is not enough; it is doing attractiveness appropriately [being well groomed] that proves one’s deservingness and is what gets rewarded in the labour market,” the paper said.




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