Summary of The Opportunity Costs of Weight Bias at Work

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The Opportunity Costs of Weight Bias at Work summary

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Harvard research shows that racial and gender bias have abated over the past decade – but one form of bias is increasing: weight-based bias. To help managers understand the prevalence and negative impacts of weight discrimination, MIT Sloan Management Review offers a concise article from three experts in management and psychology. Enrica N. Ruggs is director of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion at the University of Memphis, Eden B. King is professor of psychology at Rice University, and Mikki R. Hebl is professor of psychology and management at Rice.

About the Author

Enrica N. Ruggs is an assistant professor of management and director of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion at the Fogelman College of Business and Economics at the University of Memphis. Eden B. King is the Lynette S. Autrey Professor of Psychology at Rice University. Mikki R. Hebl is the Martha and Henry Malcolm Lovett Professor of Psychology and a professor of management at Rice University.


Although many people are overweight in the United States, weight still carries a stigma.

Nearly three out of four Americans qualify as overweight – but in spite of its prevalence, being overweight or obese exposes people to bias, discrimination and inequality.

The stigma arises because many people blame overweight people, erroneously believing anyone could maintain a healthy weight through exercise and diet. They attribute laziness, lack of intelligence, and weak willpower to overweight individuals – as well as stereotypes such as introversion and emotional instability. In reality, factors other than willpower – some genetic – determine a person’s weight.

Weight bias can lead to ...

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