Female graduates who dress in ‘sexy’ clothes are seen as less competent than those wearing ‘professional’ suits, a study found.
Researchers say it shows women are still being judged unfairly by their appearance, with knock-on effects on their careers.
In the survey 24 women were asked to dress for their graduation ceremony in a smart outfit or a ‘sexy’ one.
Their pictures were then shown to 500 people, who were asked to estimate what grade they thought each achieved, how competent they thought they were and how appropriate their outfit was.
Those wearing a jacket and trousers or long skirt were perceived as having achieved a higher mark than those on short dresses or skirts, low necklines and high heels.
The pattern continued when the students’ potential future job prospects and careers were rated, the study published in Frontiers in Psychology showed.
Fabio Fasoli, a lecturer in social psychology at the University of Surrey, said: ‘It is often thought that how we dress is a reflection of our personality.
‘But this may not be the case for women, given that they are constantly scrutinised for their appearance and that unmerited conclusions are drawn about them, including their intelligence and professional capability.’
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