Women don’t have it easy in today’s world. Sexism is rampant and it shows in countless ways. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, sexism is defined as, “behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex.” Women have been stereotyped and treated poorly throughout the ages, and it is only within recent times that sexism has been deemed an issue. People who support the equal treatment of women are rising up like never before. The statistics are still staggering, though. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, cited by City Vision University, “Women working 41 to 44 hours per week earn 84.6% of what men working similar hours earn; women working more than 60 hours per week earn only 78.3% of what men in the same time category earn.” That is not even the worst of it. There’s more. Women can be categorized and treated in a certain way because of their hair color, amount of makeup they wear, and the clothes with which they adorn themselves.
Your hair color can affect your rate of pay. According to Aaron Gouveia of Salary.com, “A 2010 study from the Queensland University of Technology studied 13,000 Caucasian women and found blondes earn more than 7 percent more than female employees with any other hair color.” What about hair color makes someone more worthy of higher pay? Of course this statistic is not descriptive of every single person, but it is the average. Hair color is not a matter of professionalism, however, unless it is a non-natural hair color (e.g., purple, pink, etc.). Natural hair color is not a topic I would focus on as a woman, but it is sad to see that something as simple as hair color can affect a woman’s pay.
If you wear makeup, you are likely to be paid 30% more than a woman who does not.
“Not only do people judge beauty based on how much make-up a woman is wearing, make-up adorned women also rank higher in competence and trustworthiness, according to a study funded by Procter & Gamble, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston University, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.”
What makes women more likely to wear makeup over men? Why is it that if men don’t wear makeup, they get higher pay? That is an entirely different story, but it is important to question and think about why we do the things we do.
Last but certainly not least is how clothing affects a woman’s pay. Wearing clothing that is inline with a company’s dress code, or even a step above that dress code, is essential for women to keep their jobs, let alone have a rate of pay equal to men. Darlene Price, president of Well Said, Inc., says that our looks and clothing do not define us as human beings, “‘however, in the temporal realm of mere mortals, fair or not, people judge us by the way we look and that includes the way we dress.’” She goes on to say, “‘Clothing plus communication skills determine whether or not others will comply with your request, trust you with information, give you access to decision makers, pay you a certain salary or fee for contracted business, hire you, or purchase your products and services.’” Clothing choice is the most powerful tool women have to gain respect, authority, and power in business. Because clothing choices are decisions any human is able to make, it is important to put heavy thought into what you wear and why you wear it.
Is it fair that these things affect women’s ability to be paid equally to men? Absolutely not. Is it something we can change? Absolutely so! Women have the ability to make major impacts on culture, as evidenced in their ability to vote, obtain the same schooling as men, and gain the same jobs as men. This is vastly different that even just fifty years ago. As women, it is important that we stand up for what we believe in and advocate for equal treatment as men. These topics may influence your pay, but you can make a positive difference by being a strong advocate for equality in the workplace both with your decisions and what you support.