Is it a Rat Race, or a Battle of the Bulge?

by Vault Careers | October 07, 2010

Furthering today's salary statistics, a new study shows that earnings disparities extend beyond just the gender gap—it goes across waistlines as well.

The Wall Street Journal’s Juggle blog reports on a study published in the , which indicates a correlation between one's weight and one's paycheck. Among separate pools of 12,686 Americans and 11,253 Germans, the study measured subjects' relative weight and salaries. The findings would seem to mirror the basis for a number of sitcom marriages: Husky men and skinny women pull in the most, while skinny men and heavier women get the shaft.

Seems far-fetched? The numbers don't lie: In the study from the University of Florida's Timothy A. Judge, the female respondent group reported that the size of their income was inversely proportionate to their dress size. Women 25 pounds below the median group weight reported markedly higher earnings, to the tune of $15,572 on average. And it gets worse from there:

Women continued to experience a pay penalty as their weight increased above average levels, although a smaller one — presumably because they had already violated social norms for the ideal female appearance. A woman who gained 25 pounds above the average weight earned an average $13,847 less than an average-weight female.

Meanwhile, men are rewarded for packing on the pounds—in moderation, that is. In relation to the group average, skinny men earn $8,437 less. Fitness-oriented males may want to set their new target weight is 207 pounds; at that point, the study finds, men reported the highest average pay. Once they reached obesity, however, the respondents' salary gains tapered off. Which is a shame, as they could surely use the extra cash for a gym membership.

But before anyone cries foul, remember that there are more factors involved. What the report does not appear to address is the additional variables among respondents; rather, men and women were each gauged as a whole. So how do both males and females specifically fare when matched among those in their age ranges and professional levels? The study, as seen in the Journal, gives no answer.

Furthermore, nothing directly indicates that these pay levels were set at the respondents' current weight levels. One can gain or lose weight at various points in their careers. Top-earning men may become complacent and let themselves go, while top-earning women may use their professional success as a springboard into increased physical fitness. In the end, it depends on the individual and their circumstances.

However, it clearly raises questions about the relation of weight and physical attractiveness to one's career. Have you ever been discriminated against due to your weight or body type? We welcome any stories you may have regarding the subject. Comment below or share your thoughts with us on Twitter, at @VaultCareers.


-- Alex Tuttle, Vault.com

Filed Under: Job Search


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