Sydney: Obese women are more likely to be discriminated against when applying for jobs and also receive lower starting salaries than their slim colleagues, an Australian study says.
The study, led by Monash University, examined whether a recently developed measure of anti-fat prejudice, the universal measure of bias (UMB), predicted actual obesity job discrimination.
The research team also assessed whether people’s own body image and personality traits such as authoritarianism and social dominance orientation, were related to obesity discrimination, the International Journal of Obesity reports.
Kerry O’Brien, from the Monash School of Political and Social Inquiry, who led the study, said its nature was initially concealed from the participants to avoid biased results, according to a Monash statement.
“Participants viewed a series of resumes that had a small photo of the supposed job applicant attached, and were asked to make ratings of the applicants’ suitability, starting salary and employability,” O’Brien said.
“We used pictures of women pre-and post-bariatric surgery, and varied whether participants saw a resume that had a picture of an obese female attached, or the same female but in a normal weight range having undergone bariatric surgery,” O’Brien added.
“We found that obesity discrimination was displayed across all selection criteria, such as starting salary, leadership potential, and likelihood of selection for the job,” the lead researcher said.
The higher a participant’s score on the UMB, the more likely they were to discriminate against obese candidates. O’Brien and his colleague Janet Latner, from the University of Hawaii, said one of the interesting aspects of the findings was that the participants’ own body image was closely tied with obesity discrimination.
“It’s also becoming clear that the reasons for this prejudice appear to be related to our personalities and how we feel about ourselves, with attributions, such as ‘obese people are lazy, gluttonous, etc’ merely acting as self-justifications for the prejudice,” concluded O’Brien.