Want to earn the big bucks? Don’t be fat and female

From the Grindstone: A new study shows that overweight women are more likely to be paid less in their positions than overweight men. It was also found that overweight women are also more prone to being unemployed. The initial study was conducted in Iceland where the “greatest level of gender equality in terms of health, education, business opportunities and political participation” exists. But the trend isn’t just in Iceland, it’s worldwide.The same study found that overweight men are far less affected by the trend. “If anything, larger men were paid more,” said Michigan professor, Edward Norton. “There is something in western society that seems to penalize women for being overweight,” he continued.

The paper, “Do body weight and gender shape the work force? The case of Iceland” is published in Economics & Human Biology
Volume 9, Issue 2, March 2011, Pages 148-156.

3 thoughts on “Want to earn the big bucks? Don’t be fat and female

  1. I think I remember the same conclusions from another paper (or papers) posted here previously. But I can’t remember which or when.

  2. Your presentation of this article is a bit misleading, on a couple of points. First, the study found what they characterized as a “slight” relationship between obesity in women and employment status. However, and more importantly, although the authors hypothesize that the direction of causation goes from “overweight woman” to “unemployed because overweight and a woman” (and offer some plausible explanations as to why this might be the case), there is nothing in the data they collected that indicates this direction rather than the other – that is “unemployed,” and therefore “overweight woman” – i.e. that women may become overweight as a result of unemployment. In fact, the authors even cite evidence which suggests this latter interpretation may be more faithful.

    As with any social science study, it is important to keep in mind that correlation does not imply causation.

  3. Unless, of course, you’re a lesbian–remember the study that shows that lesbians tend to earn more than straight women? Pfft…

    I’m a little skeptical of these studies because they only seem to look at gender, BMI and numbers earned, rather than education and other opportunities, as well as time spent in the work force. What about time off for maternity, which is when women tend to gain weight? I’m sure there are a dozen other factors involved.

    I’m not sure about Iceland, but certainly North American stats *might* also be skewed by the simple fact that porn and high-fashion modelling –careers which require a certain look and therefore a certain (low) BMI– are the only ones where women consistently earn more than men.

Comments are closed.