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Gender benders and job contenders: cosmetics in selection contexts for women and men

Liana Bernard (Department of Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA)
Lauren S. Park (Department of Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA)
Larry R. Martinez (Department of Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA)
Kay Kulason (Department of Psychology, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, USA)

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

ISSN: 2040-7149

Article publication date: 8 February 2023

Issue publication date: 24 July 2023

349

Abstract

Purpose

The aim of the present study was to contribute to the workplace diversity literature by experimentally manipulating gender expression through the use of makeup among women and men to determine makeup's impact on interpersonal discrimination in a real-world job selection context.

Design/methodology/approach

In an experimental field study, we applied either real (i.e. tinted) or placebo (i.e. transparent) cosmetic products to women and men confederate applicants. The women and men engaged in job inquiry and pre-interview conversations with store personnel in 136 retail stores across 3 shopping malls that were randomly assigned to one of 4 conditions in a 2 (confederate gender: women versus men) by 2 (cosmetic usage: real versus placebo) experimental design. The confederate applicants were accompanied by confederate observers and recorded interactions were later analyzed by naïve coders. The applicants, observers, and naïve coders rated interpersonal discrimination from store personnel in each interaction.

Findings

As hypothesized, women who enhanced their femininity through the use of makeup experienced significantly less interpersonal discrimination than women who did not. In contrast, there was no significant difference in interpersonal discrimination for men as a function of visual gender expression.

Originality/value

These findings highlight the pervasive gender norm expectations for women at work by examining gender non-conformity of women and men.

Keywords

Citation

Bernard, L., Park, L.S., Martinez, L.R. and Kulason, K. (2023), "Gender benders and job contenders: cosmetics in selection contexts for women and men", Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 737-753. https://doi.org/10.1108/EDI-03-2022-0080

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2023, Emerald Publishing Limited

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