Bloomberg Businessweek, formerly known as BusinessWeek, received sharp criticism for producing an online poll that ranked the attractiveness of men and women at multiple business schools throughout the country, according to an article in The Boston Globe Tuesday.
Boston University was among the schools ranked and was tied for first place along with Michigan State University and the University of Virginia.
Businessweek issued an apology on its Facebook page Monday acknowledging that the polls were in “poor taste” and that they had been removed from the publication’s website, according to the Globe.
Businessweek’s decision to remove the content and issue an apology was appropriate and probably necessary. However, the polls never should have been created in the first place. Ranking business students on their looks not only reduces them to mere objects, but also takes away from the credible programs they represent. These are highly esteemed programs, and the students who belong to them deserve our respect. If a publication, especially one as well-respected as Businessweek, is going to rank college students at all, they should rank them on the qualities for which they were admitted, their academic prowess and integrity — not their appearances. To rank members of an academic program, especially one as serious as a business program, is inappropriate.
This is not the first time that students have been ranked on their appearances. College Prowler, an online guide to college life written for and by students, ranks universities based on how attractive their student body is. However, their ranking seems more mild because it rates the student body as a whole. It does not single out one program.
In 2010 a website called Rate BU generated heat for giving students the ability to upload images of their classmates and rank them on their looks.While ranking individual students is more intrusive than ranking members of one program or an entire student body, the motive is the same: judge these men and women on their looks.
The backlash has centered on how the attractive females poll degraded women. However, males were ranked on their attractiveness, too. The media should address how the polls objectified both genders and not just one or the other. As degrading as the female poll is, it is important to recognize that the objectifying nature of the male poll is just as inappropriate. Perhaps Businessweek should stick with what it knows best — financial news and analysis.