A Michigan State University scholar researchers says that weight discrimination appears to add to the glass ceiling effect for women. Mark Roehling's research contends that overweight and obese women are significantly underrepresented among the top CEOs in the United States. Perhaps unsurprisingly, overweight men were overrepresented among top CEOs.
The different results for women and men suggest weight bias may contribute to the glass ceiling on the advancement of women to the top levels of management, suggests Roehling, an associate professor of human resource management. "The results suggest that while being obese limits the career opportunities of both women and men, being 'merely overweight' harms only female executives - and may actually benefit male executives," he said. "This pattern of findings is consistent with previous research indicating that, at least among white Americans, there is a tendency to hold women to harsher weight standards."
The study findings indicate that between 45-61 percent of top male CEOs are overweight (BMI between 25 and 29), which is higher than the U.S. average of 41 percent in similarly aged men. In sharp contrast, only 5-22 percent of top female CEOs were overweight, compared with the U.S. average of 29 percent among similarly aged women.
"This reflects a greater tolerance and possibly even a preference for a larger size among men but a smaller size among women. It appears that the glass ceiling effect on women's advancement may reflect not only general negative stereotypes about the competencies of women, but also weight bias that results in the application of stricter appearance standards to women," concluded Roehling.
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Source: Michigan State University