Although obviously illegal, discrimination is still prevalent in hiring practices and the workplace. A study from Plos One found slight weight gain often hurts a woman’s chances of being hired. Researchers studied 60 men and 60 women and asked them to imagine they made the hiring decisions and look at a series of photographs and determine the likability of the people in them. The photographs showed four men and four women, all white and expressionless, at various, digitally enhanced weights. Each face reflected what doctors consider healthy body weights. A human resources manager might warn that deciding on the basis of a photo could invite a lawsuit. But the respondents made snap judgments. Both genders preferred thinner faces and identified them as more hirable than the heavier ones, though the effect was stronger for roles that involved customer interaction. The results showed that subjects were the least likely to hire larger women.
Another group facing hiring discrimination are those Americans over the age of 50. Even with years of experience, two-thirds of job seekers report encountering age discrimination. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, age discrimination starts earlier with females and doesn’t improve. In a report from the Sloan Center on Aging & Work, hiring managers at state agencies listed numerous stereotypes about why they felt hiring older employees was a poor choice: claiming applicants were more likely to be burned-out, resistant to new technologies, absent due to illness, poor at working with younger supervisors and reluctant to travel. In reality, data shows that older workers are reliable, handle stress, can master new skills and are engaged when offered the opportunity to grow and advance within a company.