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Weight discrimination is a tough bias to shed

If you have trouble finding a power suit in your size, it may be for one reason: those who make clothes for business women don't expect plus-size women to achieve positions of power. Why is that? After all, you have your degree, perhaps several. You are good at your job, and you have plenty of successful experience in your field.

Still, you may watch other, thinner people move up the ladder while you stay behind. Your evaluations are top-notch, and your employers and clients have only good things to say about your performance. However, if your supervisor ever suggested that you would get farther in the business world if you dropped a few pounds, you may still be stinging.

Bias against larger size

You know yourself and how hard you work to excel at what you do. You likely arrive early, stay late, take work home and put in time over the weekend. Despite this, it seems that the corporate world still holds to the unsupported stereotypes that plus-sized people are lacking certain qualities that arbitrarily describe thinner employees, including:

  • Disciplined
  • Healthy
  • Hard-working
  • Energetic
  • Easy to work with
  • Outgoing

While weight bias affects men and women, it is more prevalent against women. While over 67 percent of women say they are size 14 or larger, fewer than 22 percent of CEOs across the country are plus-size. Add to that the fact that fewer than 7 percent of Fortune 500 companies have women executives and you can see the odds are against a larger woman who aspires to succeed in business.

Protecting your rights

Some research shows that even if you are of average weight, it may not be good enough for the corporate world. Data shows that average-sized women tend to earn about $400,000 less than women who are 25 pounds underweight. This may be the result of some twisted assumptions people make about you based on your size.

If you are experiencing discriminatory behavior because of your size, you may feel discouraged to learn that there are no federal protections for weight like there are for race, gender and other characteristics. Some California cities have statutes, but the state has passed no laws concerning weight discrimination. However, this should not prevent you from standing up for your rights. You may find it helpful to seek legal advocacy as you work for fair treatment and equal opportunities for success.

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