Low-cut dresses boost women's job application chances, researcher will tell body image conference

Issue date: 27 June 2016


Wearing a low-cut dress in a job application photograph dramatically increases a woman's chances of receiving an interview, new research has suggested.

A study due to be unveiled at a world-leading conference starting in London tomorrow (Tuesday June 28) showed female applicants were up to five times more successful in securing job interviews when pictured in revealing clothing rather than more conservative dress.

The research carried out in Paris found that women stood a much greater chance of earning job interviews for both sales and accounting roles.

Dr Sevag Kertechian, a researcher based at Paris-Sorbonne University in the French capital, will reveal the full findings of his study at the Appearance Matters Conference - the world's largest event on body image and disfigurement - being held between Tuesday and Thursday.

Run by the globally-recognised Centre for Appearance Research (CAR), the conference will see more than 200 appearance experts from across the world tackle issues including weight loss surgery, eating disorders and 'ultra-thin' dolls.

Dr Kertechian decided to research the impact clothing had on the recruitment process because it had never been scientifically studied.

As job advertisements came up over a period of three years, he put two women forward for the roles. Both have similar looks and near identical skills and experience on their CVs but were dressed differently in their application photographs, with one wearing a low-cut dress and the other in round neck clothing. Each woman was forwarded for 100 roles wearing the revealing outfit and 100 jobs in the more traditional clothing, to ensure the experiment was fair.

Dr Kertechian found the applicant wearing the low-cut dress captured the attention of the recruiters more successfully. Among the 200 sales role applications, the low-cut dress submissions received 62 more interview offers than their counterparts. From the 200 accountancy applications, there were 68 more interview offers for the more provocatively-dressed candidate.

He said: “Our results showed interesting trends as low-cut dresses significantly influenced the choice of the recruiters, even for accounting positions. Regardless of the job, whether customer-facing saleswoman or office-based accountant, the candidate with the low cut clothing received more positive answers.

“The results were quite shocking and negative but not necessarily surprising – they show we need to conduct more research.”

Being held in London for the first time in its 13-year history, the Appearance Matters Conference will see pre-eminent researchers from a variety of disciplines unveil findings from pioneering studies related to the psychology of appearance.

Among the academics presenting their work at the conference will be Dr Amy Slater, whose study found young girls reported heightened body dissatisfaction after playing a children's internet 'makeover' game for just 10 minutes.

Academics, clinicians, practitioners and policy makers involved in research and the provision of care for people with appearance-related concerns will descend on the conference to update their knowledge, engage in debate, share ideas and network with others working in the field.

The event is being hosted by CAR, a research centre based at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), at The Royal College of Surgeons in the heart of the capital. In all, there will be more than 70 presentations, along with training workshops, dissemination events, mentoring, social events and a special panel discussion.

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