Imagine that you are in the doctor’s office waiting to see a physician that you have never met before. Then, a pretty female doctor who looks like she isn’t a day older then thirty walks into the exam room. What do you think? Do you question how much knowledge this young doctor has and if they are qualified to make an accurate diagnosis? Now switch that young doctor out for an older one, who appears to be in his or her fifties or sixties. What is your impression? Do you have a tendency to trust this more experienced looking doctor over the younger one?
I’ll admit that even as a future physician, I have to make a conscious effort not to make these assumptions about young physicians. It is only natural to want the best and most experienced when it comes to our own health. Are these assumptions fair or unfair?
Take another example. Say you hire an interior designer to redecorate your house. Imagine that you have two interviewees but you could only choose your decorator based on their shoes. Would you chose this designer….
or this designer…
I have a feeling that most of you chose the shoe on the right. Is it because, purely based on her shoe choice, she seems more fashion forward? How does this translate to interior design? It probably doesn’t translate at all, but some may think that a woman who dresses fashionably will decorate in the same manner.
Since light travels faster than sound, you are seen before you are heard. This is why, before even uttering a word your visual image will say a multitude about you as an individual (your perceived level of intelligence, competence, confidence, power, beliefs and success). Is this fair? Certainly not. Will this bias change? Definitely not.
The importance of appearance in the professional world is no secret. That being said, to what extent are women concerned about their appearance? In representative surveys done by the New York School of Law, 90 percent of women consider looks important to their self-image, and over half of young women reported that they would prefer to be hit by a truck than be fat; two thirds would rather be mean or stupid. More than a third of obese individuals are willing to risk death in order to lose just 10 percent of their weight; three quarters will assume the risk for 20 percent.
These percentages are staggering to me, but this is the world we live in. Please comment! I would love to know what you think!