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Should your looks dictate your pay packet?

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The new book Honey Money argues that attractive people earn more. We asked its author, Catherine Hakim, and journalist, Julie Bindel, if women should capitalise on their looks to get ahead at work.

“ATTRACTIVE PEOPLE WORK BETTER”

Catherine Hakim, academic at the London School of Economics says:

“How you look should affect what you earn because research has found that attractive people sell more, work better in teams, are more productive and profitable for employers. Everyone finds attractive people to be more congenial colleagues. However attractiveness combines looks as well as manners, courtesy and charm. People often forget that.

In Honey Money I explain that the term ‘erotic capital’ refers to a fluid but crucial combination of liveliness, sex appeal, beauty, social skills and attractive styling. New research shows that looking good can be just as important as qualifications for getting ahead. Better- looking people, with good grooming and nice manners, earn around 20% more. Attractive people aren’t just seen to be more competent – in fact, they are because social intelligence is increasingly valuable in knowledge economies.

Women should stop worrying that it is frivolous vanity to spend time on make-up, nice hair and nails, or good clothes that help you stand out from the crowd. The investment yields benefits. Smile at the world and the world smiles back.”

Honey Money: The Power Of Erotic Capital (£20, Allen Lane) is out on 1 September

“JUDGE ABILITY NOT DRESS SENSE”

Julie Bindel, journalist and co-founder for Justice for Women says:

“Women should neither need nor desire to use their looks to get ahead in the boardroom. This obsession with remodelling our bodies, face and hair, in order to look acceptable for men, further perpetuates the gap in power between the sexes.

The suffragettes did wear red lipstick as a symbol of defiance but, after World War II, a shortage of men meant wearing make-up to attract a husband became a requirement women could not easily escape.

Today, after four decades of feminism in which many of us have learned to refuse the tyranny of femininity, more and more women around the world seem to have their ambition rooted in looking good rather than in progressing up the career ladder on a par with men.

I believe we should be judged for our abilities not our dress sense. Why should those women – who choose not to alter their bodies, refuse to put themselves through the agony of high heels or change their hair colour – be judged as less than the women who have been brainwashed into believing that our worth lies in our looks, not our talent?”

What's your view? Tweet your thoughts to @stylistmagazine or share them in the comments below.

Main picture credit: Rex Features

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