Women are already only making 77 cents to each dollar a man earns. What makes it even worse? A new Vanderbilt study shows that overweight women make significantly less money than an average-sized woman for the same job. Plus, no matter what the type of job, obese men do just as well as average-sized men.
According to the study, obese women are less likely to work in personal interaction-based jobs, but more likely to work in physically demanding jobs. Although jobs that emphasize personal interaction are higher paying, "a morbidly obese woman working in an occupation with an emphasis on personal interaction will earn almost 5 percent less than a normal-weight woman working in an occupation with exactly the same emphasis," explained Jennifer Shinall, Assistant Professor of Law and author of the study, in a video on Vanderbilt's website.
If you're wondering what a "personal interaction job" is compared to a "physically demanding job," Shinall has guidelines. In a personal interaction job, the employee works closely with the customer; for example, a salesperson, customer service representative, or receptionist. Examples of physically demanding positions are home health aides, health care practitioners, chefs, and child caretakers.
The Guardian has more specifics:
Being thin, it seems, is an unspoken requirement if you're after a fatter paycheck. And the thinner you are, the better you fare, financially speaking. If you are deemed to be heavy, on the other hand, you suffer, as a 2011 study made clear. Heavy women earned $9,000 less than their average-weight counterparts; very heavy women earned $19,000 less. Very thin women, on the other hand, earned $22,000 more than those who were merely average. And yes, those results are far more visible on women's earnings than on those of me.
Even after taking differences in education and socioeconomic status into account, Shinall says, there seems to be no scenario where being overweight is an advantage for a woman.
So, what's the best course of action from here? Shinall believes "What seems to be going on in the labor market may be more of a sex discrimination issue that could be tied to Title VII," which prohibits sex discrimination in employment.
Shinall is passionate in her fight against employment discrimination, which she has made the main focus of her legal studies. We're glad that, with this paper, she is bringing attention to an issue that really makes you think, "How is this still happening?"
To find out more about the study, you can watch the video featuring Shinall below:
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