It seems that the more sexy a woman of power dresses, the less intelligent she appears to others. A study conducted by Peter Glick, professor at the University of Lawrence, Wisconsin, finds that this discrimination was particularly obvious when the sexy woman was a manager. The study, which is being published in December's issue of Psychology of Women Quarterly, involved men and women participants viewing different videos of women talking about their hobbies/interests while being alternately dressed in conservative attire and more revealing sexy attire.
The findings: Participants were asked to make presumptions concerning each woman with respect to her perceived intelligence, competence, education, and GPA. The sexy attire of the receptionists seemed unaffected, as were the women wearing flat dress shoes, a turtle neck, blazer, and more conservative clothing. However, it seems the women managers wearing the sexy clothing were viewed as less competent.
Peter Glick believes, "A female manager whose appearance emphasized her sexiness elicited less positive emotions, more negative emotions, and perceptions of less competence on a subjective rating scale and less intelligence on an objective scale."
Does that sound surprising?
The common belief is that a woman in a position of power must prove her worthiness by working harding, being smarter, and even acting and dressing more masculine. Disagree? Hey, remember those 80s women powersuits? Ever catch an episode of Dynasty? Those powersuits had shoulder pads as big as aircraft carriers. You could set a stack of books on each shoulder with those things. These dresses were designed to give women a more manly look. Perhaps there's been a backlash from those ogre-looking dresses and women decided to look more womanly. Call it revenge of femininity.
I work with many different kinds of businesses, and I've been seeing more women dressing more and more sexy. Just watch television...do women lawyers really look THAT hot? Glick adds, ""Although various media directed toward women …encourage women to emphasize their sex appeal, our results suggest that women in high status occupations may have to resist this siren call to obtain the respect of their co-workers."
So is the pendulum swinging the other way? Are we going to see women dressing more like linebackers? Why do women managers get such a bad rap anyway?
Jessica Salasky, businesswoman extraordinare and creator of the Confidence Builders seminars, says that from her interviews of over 2000 men AND women, 75% of them said they preferred to have a male manager over a female one.
Being reprimanded by a female manager is a worker's worst nightmare. Perceptions of their female manager in such situations was FAR more negative. Leane Atwater, author of ''Gender and Discipline in the Workplace — Wait Until Your Father Gets Home,'' reports that workers that received any type of disciplinary were:
*less likely to believe the punishment was fair
*less likely to accept responsibility for their actions
*more likely to believe the female manager was incompetent or ineffective in delivering discipline
It seems female managers are already perceived as evil and incompetent. Does dressing more sexy exaserbate the situation? Maybe. Is the "female boss is an uber bitch" stereotype supported by such a large number of female bosses being so mean and ineffective? Personally, I've had three female bosses and every single one of them was a major pain in the ass. Is that from my skewed, limited, and sexist perspective? That's quite possible. But looking back, I have to say that each female boss was the bane of my existence at the time.
In my anger and frustration during stressful situations with a female boss, a million thoughts ran through my mind. I never verbalized these thoughts since I wanted to keep my job and sexual harrassing your boss is probably not a very effective method to achieving 'employee of the month.' The following are things I wanted to say out of pure hatred, but never had the guts to. All of these are anger-based and quite sexist. For those that are easily offended, you should read no more. For the rest of you, I have bitten my tongue whilst I wish I could have said:
"Are you keeping track of my bathroom breaks because you're concerned about my bladder health?"
"So whom did you have to have sex with in order to get promoted?"
"Are you working so hard in order to pay for a re-assignment surgery?"
"You can afford the most expensive clothes and makeup, but you'll never be pretty."
"Stop bragging about your kids. They're spoiled and ugly, now leave me alone."
"I'm sorry for eating one of your chocolate bars in the refrigerator. I was just trying to help you lose weight."