Jul 11, 2013 9:02 PM GMT
Academics who interview graduate school applicants systematically favor thinner candidates, according to a study.
By following the progress of 954 applications to postgraduate programs made by about 100 students, researchers at Bowling Green State University found that when face-to-face interviews are conducted, those with a higher body mass index are less likely to be offered a place.
However, there is no significant difference in overweight candidates' success rates when applications are carried out by telephone interview only or when credentials are assessed remotely.
Jacob Burmeister, one of the authors of "Weight Bias in Graduate School Admissions" and a doctoral candidate in Bowling Green State's department of psychology, said the findings suggested a bias on the part of those who meet potential postgraduates during recruitment.
"There are two explanations. One is that there is some sort of conscious or unconscious prejudice on the part of those carrying out the interviews," he told Times Higher Education, based on their thinking that overweight candidates lack self-control or the capacity for hard work.