Study Shows That Natural Black Hairstyles Perceived To Be Less Professional

Black women with natural hairstyles including curly afros, twists or braids are less likely to get job interviews than White women or Black women with straightened hair.

Participants in the studies, carried out by researchers from Duke University's Fuqua School of Business, perceived natural Black hairstyles as less professional. The biases are rooted in a standard of beauty in many Western societies that is based on White women and straightened hair the standard of perceived professionalism, and recruiters are then influenced by that standard.

The studies involved hundreds of participants of different races, who were asked to screen potential job candidates in the same way as recruiters. Participants gave Black women with natural hair lower scores for competence and professionalism.

In one instance, two groups of participants were asked to evaluate the same Black female, one with a photo of the candidate with natural hair, the other saw an image of her with straight hair. The latter group gave the candidate a higher score for professionalism, and recommended her for interview more strongly.

In the past couple of years, various states — including California, New York, New Jersey and Virginia — have passed legislation banning discrimination against natural Black hairstyles, and the US Navy has also adapted its hairstyle policy to be more inclusive.

Photos by Getty Images

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