Physical Attractiveness and Femininity: Helpful or Hurtful for Female Attorneys
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law
August 31, 2013
As a young woman entering the legal profession, I have learned that everyone has an opinion on what I should wear and how I should look in court, in the office, in academic settings, and around clients. Commentary about a woman’s achievements often includes statements about their physical appearance, fashion sense, or femininity.
This paper aims to use social science research to explore how a woman’s physical attractiveness and femininity affects how others perceive her competence, skills, and abilities in male-dominated professions and in the law specifically. I will use the terms attractiveness and femininity interchangeably since attractive women are typically seen as more feminine and more feminine women are typically seen as more attractive. In Part II, I discuss the “Beauty is Good” and “Beauty is Beastly” stereotypes and its effects on women in male-dominated professions. In Part III, I discuss how physical attractiveness and femininity can lead to discrimination against women in the law. In Part IV, I discuss what can be done to ensure that women are judged not by their physical appearances but by their merit. Lastly, in Part V, I conclude by identifying areas for future research.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 24
Keywords: stereotyping, gender, physical attractiveness, beauty, Beauty is Good, Beauty is Beastly, Gender Discrimination, Lawworking papers series
Date posted: September 1, 2013
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