Research shows that prejudice against natural hair limits opportunities for black women

Key points

  • In recent years, natural hair has made a comeback among people of African descent.
  • Although it has promoted widespread acceptance of traditional black hairstyles, new evidence shows that employers still prefer straight hair.
  • This preference has reduced the chances of black women who choose not to wear straight hair or European-centric hairstyles.

Recently published evidence Social Psychology and Personality Science Adhere to the long-standing statement that black women and white women with straightened hair receive more treatment in the workplace than black women with natural hair.More importantly, the evidence suggests that there is a prejudice against black women with natural haircuts, which can have a negative impact on their careers.

Despite the recent resurgence of natural hair movement, this information still appears,Encourage the efforts of people of African descent to accept natural hair texture. However, natural black hairstyles (including afros, curls, braids, locs, and twists) are still severely stigmatized within and outside the black community.

Hair bias can start during the recruitment period

Recent survey results indicate that hair bias often starts in the recruitment process.During the study, participants from different ethnic backgrounds were asked to evaluate potential job applicants. According to researchers at Duke University, compared to black women and white women who straighten their hair, recruiters are more likely to believe that black women with natural haircuts are less professional and capable, and therefore less likely to recommend them for job interviews. The scores of white women did not change, even those with naturally curly hair.

Regardless of race, most participants had a prejudice against black women with natural hairstyles. Although this only happens when evaluating mock candidates for consulting positions, where the dress code is often more conservative, the creative industry is not immune to racial prejudice. The recent protests in the United States against the brutal killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor by the police have triggered racial reckoning in industries where the percentage of white people is too high, including publishing .

Due to the underrepresentation of American companies, black women are more susceptible to racist recruitment and often lack the support needed to create positive change within the organization. According to research by consulting firm McKinsey, white women accounted for 18% of C-Suite in 2019, while white men accounted for 68%. Women of color, including blacks, Asians and Latino women, account for only 4% of C-Suite.

Adhere to white standards

Hair prejudice often stems from stereotypes, describing natural black hair as unclean, disheveled, and unsuitable for professional environments. In 2017, the results of the “Good Hair” study showed that white women believed that black women’s textured hair was less attractive and less professional than “smooth hair”.To avoid social stigma, black women feel pressured to comply with European-centric beauty standards.

According to the “Good Hair” study:

  • Black women experience high levels of anxiety related to hair care
  • Black women spend more money on hair than white women
  • Black women spend more time on their hair than white women
  • One in five black women feel obligated to straighten their hair for work

For many black women, there is no choice. In the most extreme cases, black women with natural hairstyles were punished for violating organizational dress codes and forced to straighten their hair to avoid termination.Hair discrimination based on race is an example of how white supremacy continues to control the autonomy of black women.

Despite their popularity, chemical straighteners are expensive and can cause long-lasting hair damage. Researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) found that black women who use permanent hair dye every 5 to 8 weeks or longer have a 60% increase in breast cancer risk.

The NIH research results also show that all women who use chemical straighteners every 5 to 8 weeks are 30% more likely to develop breast cancer-although researchers point out that black women use chemical straighteners more frequently than white women Device.Chemical hair straighteners are associated with cancer and other health risks because they contain carcinogens and other toxins.

The natural hairstyle ban is an example of how white supremacy continues to control the autonomy of black women.

What are you doing?

In an effort to improve racial equality in the workplace, some employers have implemented a practice called “blind recruitment.”Remove any information that may indicate race or gender from the application materials. However, some experts warn that blind recruitment is not a substitute for systemic organizational changes that help prevent racist behavior.

New York, New Jersey, California,Recently, Virginia. Currently, more than 20 other states are considering creating a mutual respect and open world (CROWN) bill for natural hair.

But in 2020, black women should not be forced to wait for legislative changes to protect their basic human rights.