Women Wearing Make-Up Less Likely To Make Good Leaders, New Study Claims

Women wearing make-up are less likely to be considered strong leaders, according to a new study.

Research from Abertay University in Dundee found both men and women drew the same conclusions when looking at images of women wearing make-up, compared to those without.

Those taking part in an experiment were shown 16 pairs of images showing a woman made up for a night out and her make-up free. They were then asked to choose the better leader.

The faces and the amount of make-up shown was manipulated by computer software for the research, which was published in the Perception journal.

Women were evaluated more negatively as a leader if the image suggested she was wearing a lot of make-up. This was the result for both male and female participants.


“This research follows previous work in this area which suggests that wearing make-up enhances how dominant a woman looks,” said Dr. Christopher Watkins, of the university’s division of psychology.

“While the previous findings suggest that we are inclined to show some deference to a woman with a good-looking face, our new research suggests that make-up does not enhance a woman’s dominance by benefiting how we evaluate her in a leadership role.”

The findings contradict Harvard University research in 2016 which found women who wore make-up were seen as better at their jobs and more likely to be promoted.

A 2013 survey backed those findings, as more than two thirds of British employers said they would be less likely to employ a female applicant if she turned up to an interview without make-up.

The research by cosmetics retailer escentual.com also showed almost half of bosses said it would be a major factor if the job was in sales or a role dealing with customers and clients.

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