Around a decade ago, police services in Taipei were instructed to recruit more female officers. The government sought to rectify the stunning lack of estrogen on the force. The police quickly complied, and in short order these newly minted female officers were being seen on the street everywhere.
However, the police recruitment office handled the hiring of females the way a lot of Asian offices approach it—they hired on looks. Normally this is done in public-facing jobs, where customers enjoy being served by energetic, attractive, young people and is particularly common in traditional female jobs, like flight attendants.
I don’t really have much against the police hiring women based on looks. I’m a feminist. I believe hotties have as much right as uggos to break gender barriers. However, having all these extremely beautiful women suddenly directing traffic on every street corner—the starting point for new police officers in Taipei—had unforeseen consequences.
On the positive side, middle-aged, roly-poly male police officers suddenly experienced fits of community service, put down their doughnuts and coffee (or the Taiwanese equivalent), left their precinct houses, and took these young charges under their wing to show them how to direct traffic—very altruistic. I’m sure some of these men hadn’t ventured outside the station in a decade or more. Judging by the strain these guys put on their uniform buttons—it was overdue. These beauties had a salubrious effect on the forces’ general fitness for duty.
On the negative side, I’m pretty sure accident statistics spiked. Not that they didn’t do a good job directing traffic, but they were a distraction. There was no warning these young women were going to hit the street. I was stunned when I pull up to my local intersection their first morning on duty. I was just minding my own business, somnambulating my way to work, when—bam—there she was, a goddess in government issue blues and sensible shoes. It was like suddenly finding a young Bo Derek, in mirrored aviator sunglasses provocatively waving you through traffic.
I drove into a lamppost. I can’t be the only one.
The practice of hiring on looks extends to men. It used to be required that you submit a photo with your resume for many jobs. I was hired from Canada, by a Korean school, based on my photo, not my resume. I’m sure they didn’t think I was particularly attractive, but they thought I looked kind. They took the photo to a face-reader who confirmed my amiability, and I was in. Sure, it’s not a flashy way of getting hired on your looks, but it still counts.