APRIL 23, 2001 — In this graduation season, Americans have advice for the millions of women job-seekers who are graduating from high school, college and job training programs: a professional appearance will help you get and keep a job, and win responsibilities, raises and promotions. A new poll finds that nearly seven in ten Americans (69 percent) – and more than eight in ten women – say clothing, hair and makeup are very or extremely important for a woman on the job, and for her confidence. Large majorities say that a woman’s appearance affects whether she is taken seriously, asked to represent her company at outside meetings, and considered for raises and promotions.
The poll was conducted by Yankelovich Partners, Inc., for Work Your Image!, a joint program of Women Work! The National Network for Women’s Employment and the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA). Work Your Image! is designed to help displaced homemakers, single parents, welfare recipients and other women in transition create a professional appearance to get and keep a job.
“The Work Your Image! poll provides important lessons for the millions of women competing for jobs in this busy graduation season,” said Women Work! Executive Director Jill Miller. “A professional appearance is important to making a good first impression. For women entering or reentering the workforce, creating a professional appearance is an asset that enhances their education and job training. This poll and the Work Your Image! program provide easy tips for looking good and feeling confident on the job.” Government statistics suggest there are some 63 million women in the paid workforce – a number that increases each year. Currently, 74 percent of women over age 18 hold jobs.
“This poll confirms one of the core principles of Work Your Image! – appearance matters on the job,” CTFA President Ed Kavanaugh added. “Women and men, older Americans and younger Americans, people of all races and income levels agree that an appropriate workplace appearance is critical to hiring and promotion.”
Other findings from the new Work Your Image! poll include:
Appearance and Success
- Three in four Americans (76 percent) say that a woman’s appearance on the job is likely to affect whether she is taken seriously. Eighty-four percent of women and 68 percent of men agree with that statement.
- Sixty-four percent of respondents say that a woman’s appearance on the job affects whether she will be considered for a raise or promotion. Sixty-nine percent of women and 60 percent of men agree with that statement.
- Eighty-four percent of Americans say that a woman’s appearance on the job is likely to affect whether she is asked to represent her company at outside meetings. Eighty-nine percent of women and 79 percent of men agree with that statement.
- Two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say that a woman’s appearance on the job is likely to affect whether she is given new challenges, responsibilities and opportunities. Seventy-two percent of women and 62 percent of men agree with that statement.
Appearance and Confidence
- Seventy-eight percent of Americans say that clothes, hair and makeup affect a woman’s confidence in her ability to do her job well a great deal, very much or somewhat.
- Respondents with more education say they felt most confident that they had dressed appropriately for their most recent first day on a job. Eighty-four percent of those who had a college degree felt extremely or very certain that they had dressed appropriately, compared with 64 percent of respondents who had not completed high school.
Appearance Dos and Don’ts
- Neat hairstyles, light makeup, short or average length fingernails, and knee-length or longer skirts top Americans’ “do” list. Eighty-three percent of women say that a skirt around knee length or longer is a “do” on a woman’s first day on the job. Two-thirds of men agree.
- Casual clothing, heavy makeup, clunky jewelry, short or tight skirts, and unconventional hairstyles top Americans’ “don’t” list.
- Fifty-two percent of respondents from the South say that matching shoes and a purse are a “do” compared with 41 percent of those from the Northeast and West. Fifty-four percent of respondents over 65 years of age agree.
Cost of Making a Good Appearance
- Two-thirds of respondents (65 percent) say it does not take a lot of money for a woman to have the kind of clothes, hair and makeup to make a good impression at work, and 31 percent say it does take a lot of money.
- Respondents with lower incomes and less education are more likely than those with higher incomes and more education to believe that it takes a lot of money for a woman to have the kind of clothes, hair and makeup to make a good impression.
The telephone survey of 1,000 Americans age 18 or older was conducted from April 19 to April 22, 2001. The margin of error for the total sample is 3.1 percent.
The Work Your Image! program disseminates guides and worksheets on the importance of appearance to the more than 1,000 education, training and employment programs that are part of the Women Work! network. These programs provide career counseling, life skills development, support groups, and job training to help women move into and up in the workplace. Women Work! The National Network for Women’s Employment is dedicated to empowering women from diverse backgrounds and helping them achieve self-sufficiency through job readiness, education, training and employment.
CTFA is a national trade association representing the cosmetic, toiletry and fragrance industry. Founded in 1894, CTFA has an active membership of approximately 300 companies that manufacture or distribute the vast majority of finished personal care products marketed in the United States. CTFA also includes approximately 300 associate member companies, including manufacturers of raw materials, trade and consumer magazines, and other related materials.
Read more about Women Work!’s Work Your Image! Guides.