If you wear makeup at work, your female colleagues may think this about you

A few months back Ladders reported on a study that found that women get taken less seriously as competent leaders when they wear too much makeup. It also seems that their female colleagues may penalize them if they show they have put effort into their appearance, according to new research.

Danielle DelPriore of the University of Utah and Hannah Bradshaw and Sarah Hill from Texas Christian University had 120 heterosexual women read a short story about a young woman who is preparing for a job interview with a male manager.

Half of the participants read a version of the story in which the woman, Melissa, wore makeup to her interview. The other half read one in which Melissa didn’t wear any makeup.

The makeup group found Melissa to be “fake, manipulative, selfish, and trying to get ahead at all costs” on a seven-point rating scale, but this was only a half a point more than the other group rated her.

Makeup is associated with negativity

To further support their theory the researchers then showed a new group of heterosexual women either wearing makeup or not wearing makeup. The volunteers were asked if they would affiliate with this woman or not, as in socialize with her on a personal level, go to lunch, etc., Not surprisingly the participants were less willing to affiliate with the makeup adorned women than with those who weren’t wearing it. Interestingly the subject did agree that makeup made the women in the photos look better.

They then ran a third experiment with the photos of women wearing makeup and not wearing makeup. This time the volunteers were asked to rate the woman’s attractiveness say how much time and effort she was putting into her appearance, and were asked to express agreement or disagreement with statements about her trustworthiness.

One example was: “If we were competing for something, I would expect her to play fair.” The results found that those who wore makeup clearly tried harder with their appearance and therefore were less trustworthy.

From the study’s abstract: “Because the benefits of beauty are rewarded based on superficial qualities rather than on merit or performance, women may perceive same-sex others who use appearance enhancement to gain advantages as being dishonest or manipulative.”