How a woman chooses to dress can still have a knock-on effect on her career, with those who wear ‘sexy’ skirts and plunging neck lines more likely to be promoted according to a new study.
In contrast, female graduates who dress in such clothes are seen as less competent and lazier than those wearing ‘professional’ suits.
Researchers say it shows women are still being judged unfairly by their appearance.
In the survey, a group of women were asked to dress for their graduation ceremony in a smart outfit or a ‘sexy’ one.
Their pictures were then shown to more than 500 people who – including other female students, professors and other adults – were asked to estimate what grade they thought each achieved, how competent they thought they were and how appropriate their outfit was.
Those wearing a jacket and trousers or long skirt were perceived as having achieved a higher mark than those in short dresses or skirts, low-cut tops and high heels.
Female students also thought that wearing provocative clothing would harm their career chances. But other adults in the panel, including, professors, said that those in sexier attire would be the most likely to get hired or promoted.
Fabio Fasoli, a lecturer in social psychology at the University of Surrey, said: ‘It is often thought that how we dress is a reflection of our personality.
‘But this may not be the case for women, given that they are constantly scrutinised for their appearance, and that unmerited conclusions are drawn about them, including their intelligence and professional capability.’
Richard Alvin, host of HBO’s business show Save Our Business said: “I am amazed by the findings of this study, this is 2019 and everyone in business, both male and female, should dress appropriate for their environment and the days of short skirts and low cut tops being a deciding factor are surely long past.”