According to a new study, female hotel employees who weigh more are perceived as being kinder than women who weigh less. In addition, the research found that heavier female employees elicit more positive evaluations of the hotel.
The research was conducted by Larry Martinez, assistant professor of hospitality management and doctoral student Nicholas Smith at Penn State, along with Isaac Sabat at George Mason University.
They hope that their study will help shed light on stereotypes, and influence how hotels hire employees.
“These findings are particularly important in the context of an industry that places a high emphasis on the aesthetics and appearance of its workforce,” Martinez said.
“Our findings suggest that the hospitality industry should instead focus on hiring and training workers in such a way as to increase how warm and friendly they are viewed by guests.”
In the study, participants were shown a photo of a front desk employee and read a scenario. In the situation, the employee was presented as both male and female and both with higher weight and average weight. Participants were then asked questions about the employee and how they handled guests.
As it turns out, a heavier female employee is perceived as being nurturing, more competent, and more intelligent than a woman with an average weight.
The weight of male front desk agents was not a factor in the perception of the hotel.
“This highlights the greater emphasis on weight and appearance for women compared to men in society in general,” Martinez said.
The findings were recently published by Cornell Hospitality Quarterly.
169 people were surveyed.