Obese women face greater discrimination

Obese women are more likely to be discriminated against when applying for jobs and receive lower starting salaries than non-overweight colleagues, according to a study.

The research, led by the University of Manchester and Monash University, Melbourne, and published in the International Journal of Obesity, examined whether a recently developed measure of anti-fat prejudice, the universal measure of bias (UMB), predicted obesity job discrimination.

Lead researcher Dr Kerry O’Brien said the nature of the study was initially concealed from the participants to avoid biased results and simply advertised as a study on whether some people are better at personnel selection than others.

“Participants viewed a series of resumes that had a small photo of the job applicant attached and were asked to make ratings of the applicants’ suitability, starting salary and employability,” said Dr O’Brien. “We used pictures of women pre- and post-bariatric (weight loss) surgery, and varied whether participants saw either a resume, amongst many, that had a picture of an obese female (body mass index 38-41) attached, or the same female but in a normal weight range (BMI 22-24) following bariatric surgery.

“We found that strong obesity discrimination was displayed across all job selection criteria, such as starting salary, leadership potential and likelihood of selecting an obese candidate for the job.”


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