ARE Overweight Job Applicants Disadvantaged? Assessing the IMPACT of Adiposity on Employment Chances

Friday, 3 July 2015: 4:00 PM-5:30 PM
TW1.1.01 (Tower One)
Andrew Timming, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Dennis Nickson, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, United Kingdom
David Perrett, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, United Kingdom
Daniel Re, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada
Using mixed design analysis of variance (ANOVA), this paper investigates the effects of adiposity on men’s and women’s employment chances in both customer-facing and non-customer-facing roles in the service sector. It employs the literature on aesthetic labour to frame the argument, recognizing that in recruiting and selecting employees, service firms now increasingly seek a ‘fit’ between their corporate image and the employees that can embody such an image. It is argued that the shape, size and weight of the body can influence employers’ views on job applicants’ suitability for service employment. The results indicate that being overweight, it would seem, is a very real stigma that negatively impacts on hireability ratings. The paper further recognizes the gendered dimension to this prejudice, with overweight female employees likely to be viewed more negatively than male employees, especially in customer-facing jobs. The paper concludes by considering some of the theoretical and practical consequences of these findings and setting out areas for future research.