A young man mentioned to me the other day that certain jobs are basically those that strippers would do if they had college degrees.
For instance, advertising account executive. They get hired in large part because of their looks, and also because they have pleasing personalities. They don't get hired because they're mistaken for marketing geniuses.
When was the last time you saw a plain woman who worked at Sotheby's or Christie's? An auction house hoping to present an elegant facade wants traditionally beautiful women to augment that impression. And management knows that if you're going to throw away a bundle on art, you at least want that money collected by enticing women. Even if those women don't know anything about art.
Pharmaceutical reps are supposed to have some understanding of chemistry, and biology. But if you've ever seen the women who traipse around to doctors' offices hawking recently FDA-approved drugs, you realize that their number one qualification is pulchitrude. Doctors are only human, and more susceptible to the blandishments of someone they want sex with. Science be damned.
Ditto for photographers' reps, though a college degree isn't a requirement there.
Even Wall Street hires saleswomen for their looks. Look at the contrast between the traders, analysts, investment bankers, and internal technology people on the one hand, and the female salespeople on the other. Or just ask yourself this simple-but-telling question: how many of the former have had plastic surgery, vs. how many of the latter?
How many female newscasters do you see who aren't good-looking? Sure, a beauty might be disqualified by an overly strong regional or ethnic accent. But it's not as if what separates the women who get the on air jobs from their fellow Communications majors is a keen grasp of realpolitik.
As always, the gap between what employers will say ("We want self starters, hard workers willing to roll their sleeves up and learn the business") and what they mean ("We want good looks") is yawning.
You'll never see a help wanted ad for these jobs which specifies beauty as a requirement. But that doesn't mean that isn't the primary prerequisite. As the young man pointed out, these are all jobs where women get hired mostly because of their sex appeal.
The same reason strippers get hired.