First aired on The Current (15/09/11)
Look the part, be the part.
We know that dressing well and being happy with your appearance can make you feel like a million bucks, even if your bank account is far lighter. But with today's hectic schedules and increased financial pressures, it's hard to find time to hit the gym, shop for stylish clothes or get a glycolic facial to even out your skin tone.
But what if your professional success and ability to make more money were strongly tied to how attractive people think you are? Would that make you spend a little longer each morning getting ready? Would it make you smile a little more and act friendlier?
It's only now we're beginning to see scientific research that suggests what we all know intuitively: good-looking and gregarious people get ahead in the workplace quicker than their more homely counterparts. But to what extent is being attractive an advantage?
Sociologist Catherine Hakim says that attractive people earn "between 10 per cent and 20 per cent [more], all else equal."
But even women with plenty of "erotic capital" may have another glass ceiling to content with, she told The Current recently.
"[A] problematic result is the fact that the returns are much higher for men than for women. On average, across several surveys, it looks like it's around plus 17 per cent for men who are attractive compared with the unattractive, where it's only plus 12 per cent for attractive women compared to the unattractive."
Hakim, the author of Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom, said that women have been conditioned by a patriarchal society to believe that beauty is trivial in the workplace environment and that it's beneath them to use their looks to boost their career prospects.
"We have to break that attitude and recognize that [erotic capital] has genuine social and economic value."
"Women have a lot of catching up to do, so that's why in my book I'm arguing that women need to make sure they get a proper return for the fact they are attractive, and that men are already making a lot more out of it," Hakim said.
Erotic Capital: The Power of Attraction in the Boardroom and the Bedroom
by Catherine Hakim
"In 2010, pioneering sociologist Catherine Hakim shocked the world with a provocative new theory: In addition to the three recognized personal assets (economic, cultural, and social capital), each individual has a fourth asset -- erotic capital -- that he or she can, and should, use to advance within society. In this bold and controversial book, Hakim explores the applications and significance of erotic capital, challenging the disapproval meted out to women and men who use sex appeal to get ahead in life..."
Read more at Basic Books