La fea mas bella?
I see this Telemundo show sometimes in the tv listings, but I've never actually watched an episode of it. My Spanish is minimal but I know enough to translate it: the prettiest ugly girl.
I was especially struck by an anonymous comment I read today in response to this post on FSP.
Sigh. The upshot of the discussion on this post was that looks matter more for women, although it seems to be just as bad to be good-looking as bad-looking. But it might depend on where you are.
The post is an example from Europe where the committee actually told one female candidate that they would probably hire their other female candidate because she was better looking.
As I'm writing that I am still hoping it was said in jest (though it must have had some truth in it).
I'll admit to clinging to denial in the face of the most egregious examples of sexism. It. Just. Can't. Be. This. Bad. It's 2008. Can it really be???
In contrast, several of us noted that in the US, the women we're seeing hired lately tend to dress as much like men as possible. For women trying to get a science faculty position in the US, it seems to help if you're less-good looking.
It's a different kind of sexism, but still sexism nonetheless. I suspect they are actually stages, but I can't decide if I think that Europe is more advanced than we are or not.
I'm reprinting one anonymous comment here because it really hit home. I strongly suspect this is the same sort of thing, from top to bottom, that people would say about me (if I had any faculty interviews, that is).
Anon: "When I was doing the interview process to become a US FSP I actually thought that my looks and social skills were a detriment to my getting hired.
I was told on more than one occasion that although I interviewed wonderfully, all the faculty liked me, the students loved me, my research ideas were interesting and fundable, I was envisioned to be a great teacher and a wonderful mentor to my future students that I would not be hired because I hadn't convinced a few members of the faculty that my research would bring in heaps of money and I wasn't quite as good at selling it as I should be. Which I understand to a point"
I have heard, verbatim, the same thing this anonymous comment describes: All these good things, but that I need to figure out how to sell my work better and especially to emphasize how it will bring in money.
I can understand that in the current funding climate, this is especially critical.
But I have to wonder if there is a tendency to be especially critical of female candidates who are otherwise good in all categories? Does it really correlate with looks? In a job market where there are so many candidates to choose from, is it really possible that it comes down to splitting hairs, like it does with grant reviews?
I'm particularly curious to ask, has anybody else ever gotten this criticism in particular? Is this another example of a coded message that actually means something slightly different than the literal interpretation of the words?
In a really cynical, outdated sense, for a good-looking woman to really "sell" her work she might have to sleep with someone. Or at a minimum, respond positively to flirtation at the interview.
Surely that's not the issue nowadays, at least not in the sense of outright expectation. Right?? But that doesn't mean it doesn't play into fantasies and perhaps unconscious biases...