Physical Attractiveness and Femininity: Helpful or Hurtful for Female Attorneys
21 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2015 Last revised: 11 Jul 2015
Date Written: April 1, 2015
As a young woman in 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. This paper aims to use social science research to explore how a woman’s perceived 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 women who are judged as being more attractive are typically seen as more feminine and women who are viewed as being more feminine are typically viewed as being more attractive. In Part II, I discuss the “Beauty is Good” and “Beauty is Beastly” stereotypes and their 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.
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