Is Sex Appeal a Relevant Factor for the Job?

Since when is sex appeal a reason to vote for a political candidate?

According to Tony Abbott – right about now!

Before you read the rest of this blog I want to say this. It wouldn’t have mattered to me which political leader made this comment, my response, this article, would be the same, the comment is completely unacceptable and it is these types of comments that I am standing up against, not the specific person who said it.

job selection- sex appeal

When Mr Abbott was asked yesterday what the two Liberal candidates, Fiona Scott and Jackie Kelley had in common his reply was:

“they are young, they are feisty and I think I could probably say they both have a bit of sex appeal.”

What about intelligent, motivated, dynamic, committed? They would be words I would like to hear future leaders of Australia being described as, but sexy, really?

I remember once as a teenager swearing in front of my mum. I got in serious trouble and in the midst of her telling me off she said these words to me which I have never forgotten:

“If it came out that easily in front of me then you must be saying it a lot.”

Pretty profound mum.

While many others yesterday dismissed his comment as being in jest and not a big deal I have to say I was especially surprised by a comment later made by the NSW Liberal Minister Pru Goward, who said

“I think a lot of politicians are described as sexy”.

Why so surprised you ask?

Because Pru Goward in her former life was the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. Last time I checked (and I am only a lawyer who specialises in the area of equal opportunity legislation) calling a work colleague sexy could be enough to constitute workplace sexual harassment.

So, just a quick reminder to Mr Abbott and others who think it’s okay – try considering more important elements such as a person’s skill set and ability to do the job rather than whether they look good enough to do the job.