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Women Wearing Heavy Makeup Are Less Likely To Be Perceived As Leaders, Study Says

According to both men and women surveyed

Most decent human beings would tend to agree that someone’s performance at work—and leadership potential—should be determined by their skills, talent, communication abilities and accountability.

But, according to a new study from researchers at Abertay University, in Dundee, Scotland, some of you are judging female bosses on the amount of makeup they wear (criteria we’re yet to see on a job advertisement).

The results of the study, led by Dr Christopher Watkins of Abertay’s Division of Psychology and published in Perception journal, suggest that women who wear heavy makeup are less likely to be perceived as good leaders by others.  

For the study, 186 male and female participants were asked to view a series of images manipulated by a computer that depicted the same woman fresh-faced and with makeup applied for a “social night out,” Science Daily reports. 

“Regardless of the participant’s sex or ethnicity, makeup used for a social night out had a negative effect on perceptions of women’s leadership ability,” the study reads. 

“Our findings suggest that, in prior work, women are afforded traits related to dominance, as makeup enhances perceptions of traits that are important for successful female mating competition but not other components of social dominance such as leadership.”

Dr Watkins also told The Telegraph: “While the previous findings suggest that we are inclined to show some deference to a woman with a good looking face, our new research suggests that makeup does not enhance a woman’s dominance by benefitting how we evaluate her in a leadership role”.

In contrast, research from Harvard University in 2016 found that women wearing makeup were viewed as more competent at their jobs and more likely to receive a promotion.

So, what’s the solution? Slap on makeup on half our face and leave the other half sans cosmetics? Head into the office with a paper bag on our head? Or, refuse to give a damn about what others think of our makeup choices—and to stop judging women for theirs, too. 

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