Happy DIS Presentation Week!
This Friday, I will FINALLY be presenting my DIS and all the research that I have done with it. It has been a long, most of the time frustrating journey-- but I have learned much more than I would have ever known about how humans view personal appearance and other types of discrimination in the workplace. As a sort of "hype-up", I am sharing a portion of the research approval application with you.
To prepare for careers and to increase the probability of employment, college students invest in themselves through degree attainment, skill set development, networking, and accumulating experience. In economic terms, this attribute accumulation is called human capital investment. Economic theory indicates that individuals’ human capital investment decisions are positively correlated with the expected payoffs. For college students, this payoff is in the form of employment and its associated income. With a tight labor market, there are more applicants for positions than there are jobs available, thus the probability of securing employment is lower. When there is a surplus of applicants, employers may create stricter selection criteria which can be based on measurable factors such as more education, higher GPAs, or previous work experience. Employers could also engage in illegal discriminatory practices basing hiring decisions on applicant’s race, age, sex, disability or other U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protected category. Because such practices are illegal, employers risk prosecution and penalties by the EEOC. However, other selection criteria such as physical attractiveness are not illegal. Physical attractiveness is difficult to systematically quantify and does not have the protection of the EEOC. In a competitive labor market, college women who are making decisions about their human capital investment may focus on the accumulation of skill sets and resume-boosting activities. However, if they expect that physical appearance may be included in the selection criteria of employers, they may also invest in their physical human capital as well as their intellectual capital. Thus this study examines the degree to which women have had, and expect to have, hiring decisions that are dependent on physical attractiveness. The objective of the study is to quantity the perceived objectification of women in the hiring process. The potential implication of this study is that that women who are in college may be allocating resources (time, talent, and finances) to physical appearance, potentially undermining intellect-driven productivity performance. Undocumented discrimination could be having real, tangible limitations on human capital investment of women.
This study, Women, Beauty and the Workplace, links the experience of college women in the hiring process with their expectations about the role of physical appearance in the hiring process for professional careers. My research question is: Do college women use make-up as an investment in their professional success? This question will be posed to sorority women at Mississippi State University. This population enables me to restrict the respondents to include only college women with similar extracurricular resume-boosting experiences.
Thank you everyone so so much in advance for all the love and support I have received throughout the semester. Please continue to do so, because my sanity is on the line this week!