Gender, Hair

If You’re Good At Your Job, Your Hair (Or Lack Thereof) Shouldn’t Matter

Back in July, we brought you a story about women’s hairstyles and how they relate to success in the workplace. For older women, the results were startling; apparently women who are of partnership age are “playing havoc with their careers” if they opt to sport longer hairstyles. We wondered why people even cared about this issue, because to be quite honest, if you’re good at your job, then your hairstyle — so long as it’s acceptable for an office environment — shouldn’t matter.

Just a few months later, we’re being told that hairstyles do have a bit of unfair relevance in the business world. Whereas older women are being encouraged to lop off their long locks, men are being encouraged to shave their heads bald. It seems that new motto when it comes to your hair is the shorter the better. Listen up, senior associates and partners, because according to a recent study from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, baldness can result in a business advantage.

But why can’t men be successful and show signs of their age at the same time?

Hair may still be equated with virility, but for the purposes of executive presence, it’s recommended that men who are losing their hair take the plunge and shave it off. The Wall Street Journal has the study’s results:

Men with shaved heads are perceived to be more masculine, dominant and, in some cases, to have greater leadership potential than those with longer locks or with thinning hair….

That being the case, is a man really going to be denied a partnership position because his comb-over looks tacky? Will an older male partner be de-equitized more quickly if his hair plugs are showing? Both of these scenarios are highly unlikely, if only because the practice of law is still an extremely male-oriented profession. Really, is anyone going to suggest that Justices Breyer, Kennedy, Scalia, and Thomas shave their heads?

Writing on the topic earlier this year, Vivia Chen of The Careerist noted that she thought “bald men exude a certain authority and mystique.” Chen took the liberty of pointing out that many of the Am Law 100’s finest are bald or have shaved their heads — men whom we’ve written about countless times in the past, like Latham & Watkins’s managing partner Bob Dell and Jones Day’s frequent memo-writer Joe Sims.

That being said, regardless of whether a man has a full head of hair or rocks a cue-ball look, some study is always going to urge caution when it comes to professional hairstyles. As we’ve said before, in the end, if you’re good at your job, your hairstyle really shouldn’t matter.

Study Shows Baldness Can Be a Business Advantage [Wall Street Journal]
Want to Climb the Career Ladder? For Men, a Shaved Head Could Help, Study Suggests [ABA Journal]
Your Bald Spot [The Careerist]

Earlier: If You’re Good at Your Job, Your Hairstyle Shouldn’t Matter

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