The Grooming Gap: What “Looking the Part” Costs Women

Madison, who works a customer service job at an airport spa, has an employee handbook that says “makeup should be well maintained” and “hands and nails must be well manicured.” She says the few men she works with just ignore these guidelines “because they’re meant for women but [it] doesn’t explicitly say that.” Her wages ($13.25 per hour + 15% retail commission) do not include additional pay to purchase manicures or makeup.

…The grooming gap refers to the set of social norms regarding grooming and appearance for women, including the time women workers must spend to conform to these norms and the material consequences it has on their lives.

We’ve all heard the common advice to “look the part” at work. For men, that can often just mean business casual clothing and a short haircut. For women, it can mean hours spent each week on makeup, hair styling and curating an outfit that’s both attractive and professional.

…Physically attractive workers have higher incomes than average-looking workers, but that this relationship is eliminated when controlling for grooming in women. In other words, if you purchase the right clothes, makeup and haircut, higher wages are more within reach. It’s true that men need to abide by certain grooming rules, too, but they are less complex, less expensive and less time consuming.

…Studies confirm that, 42% of the time, products marketed to women are more expensive than comparable products targeted to men.

The grooming gap also results in a loss of free time: 55 minutes each day for the average woman, the equivalent of two full weeks each year.

The Grooming Gap: What “Looking the Part” Costs Women – In These Times

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