Bad news for any Don Draper or George Clooney look-alikes out there: A new study has found handsome men have a harder time getting promoted than your average Joe.

While the opposite is true of women (who have an easier time the better-looking they are), dashing chaps are often discriminated against by other males who feel threatened by their good looks.

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Attractive men are preferred for roles that require cooperation (like R&D), but they are less likely to be promoted for competitive jobs, such as sales departments, according to new research from University College London’s School of Management and the University of Maryland.

The same effect wasn't found for pretty women, since female attractiveness isn’t necessarily associated with competence. Dr. Sun Young Lee, assistant professor of organizational behavior at UCL, says such results are indicative of the way physical stereotypes interact with gender stereotypes.

Through four experiments involving 870 volunteers, researchers presented participants with various scenarios, in which they had to pick one candidate for a specific job. The candidates’ CVs featured almost identical skill sets and qualifications for the role: the only difference was the photographs.

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“Managers are affected by stereotypes and make hiring decisions to serve their own self-interests, so organizations may not get the most competent candidates,” says Lee. “With more companies involving employees in recruitment processes, this important point needs attention. Awareness that hiring is affected by potential work relationships and stereotyping tendencies can help organizations improve their selection processes.”

Lee says engaging external representatives improves selection outcomes, as outsiders are likely to provide fairer inputs. “Also, if organizations make managers more accountable for their decisions, they’ll be less motivated to pursue self-interests at the expense of the company,” she concludes.

- by Elodie Noël