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Does weight bias impact promotional opportunities for women?

Most Pittsburgh readers have probably never experienced obvious gender discrimination in the workplace, but many have probably been a part of a conversation about a coworkers' health or fitness. A new study shows that overall, there is a strong bias against overweight people in the workplace, and that this may be a significant contributor to the glass ceiling phenomenon that many women experience when trying to advance.

Only 22 percent of female CEOs were considered overweight according to body mass index indicators. In contrast, between 45 and 61 percent of male CEOs were overweight with a body mass index between 25 and 29. Only five percent of CEOs of either gender would be considered obese at a body mass index of 30 or higher.

Study authors said that the difference indicated a greater tolerance for larger men than women, and that this is tied in with professional advancement barriers in general. "It appears that the glass ceiling effect on women's advancement may reflect not only general negative stereotypes about the competencies of women, but also weight bias that results in the application of stricter appearance standards to women."

This type of weight and gender discrimination is unacceptable on many leveling, including the inherent injustice that having an ideal weight is now one more thing that women can add to the list of requirements for their dream job.

Our Pittsburgh law firm practices in the area of gender discrimination and fights to have women's rights respected in the workplace. More information about what we do is available on our website.

Source: Forbes, "Thin Is In For Executive Women: Does Weight Discrimination Contribute To The Glass Ceiling?" Lisa Quast, August 6, 2012.

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