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Abstract

Hair colour stereotyping is well documented in countless jokes as well as in the psychological literature. Blondes, for example, are stereotyped as incompetent, but likeable. Those with red hair are stereotyped as competent but cold or with a fiery temper. These and other stereotypes may affect job progression, mobility, and the rise to the corporate suite. To test this research question, the hair colour of CEOs of the Fortune 500 was recorded and analysed. The results support the pre conceived hair colour stereotypes. Of this group, only 11 CEOs (2.2%) were blonde while 17 CEOs (3.4%) had red hair. The remainder of the 460 male non-minority CEOs (92%) had either brown or black hair. Do ste reo types or per cep tions be come reality? Is awareness the first step in correcting the disparity? Is the disparity a problem? Does it point to discrimination in lower organisational ranks? Is this bias warranted? The article discusses the possible implications of these findings. Areas for further research are also included.
Equal Opportunities International
Hair Colour Stereotyping and CEO Selection: Can You Name Any Blonde CEOs?
Margaret B. Takeda Marilyn M. Helms Paul Klintworth Joanie Sompayrac
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To cite this document:
Margaret B. Takeda Marilyn M. Helms Paul Klintworth Joanie Sompayrac, (2005),"Hair Colour
Stereotyping and CEO Selection: Can You Name Any Blonde CEOs?", Equal Opportunities
International, Vol. 24 Iss 1 pp. 1 - 13
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Hair Colour Stereotyping and
CEO Selection: Can You Name
Any Blonde CEOs?
by Mar ga ret B. Takeda, Mar i lyn M. Helms, Paul Klintworth and Joanie
Sompayrac
Ex ec u tive Over view
Hair colour ste reo typ ing is well doc u mented in count less jokes as well as in
the psy cho log i cal lit er a ture. Blondes, for ex am ple, are ste reo typed as in -
com pe tent, but like able. Those with red hair are ste reo typed as com pe tent
but cold or with a fi ery tem per. These and other ste reo types may af fect job
pro gres sion, mo bil ity, and the rise to the cor po rate suite. To test this re search
ques tion, the hair col our of CEOs of the For tune 500 was re corded and an a -
lysed. The re sults sup port the pre con ceived hair col our ste reo types. Of this
group, only 11 CEOs (2.2%) were blonde while 17 CEOs (3.4%) had red
hair. The re main der of the 460 male non-mi nor ity CEOs (92%) had ei ther
brown or black hair. Do ste reo types or per cep tions be come re al ity? Is
aware ness the first step in cor rect ing the dis par ity? Is the dis par ity a prob -
lem? Does it point to dis crim i na tion in lower or ga ni sa tional ranks? Is this
bias war ranted? The ar ti cle dis cusses the pos si ble im pli ca tions of these find -
ings. Ar eas for fur ther re search are also in cluded.
In tro duc tion
Why did the blonde stare at the orange juice box? Because it said
“concentrate.”
When one hears the ubitiquous “dumb blonde” joke, how of ten does the re -
cip i ent of the joke imag ine a dumb blonde man? A re cent in for mal search for
“dumb blonde” jokes in nu mer ous pub lished joke books and from an ex ten -
sive Internet search re vealed over 500 dif fer ent “dumb blonde” jokes. Ap -
prox i mately 63% of the joke pool made spe cific ref er ence to dumb blonde
fe males, while less than 5% made ref er ence to dumb blonde men. The re -
main ing 32% of the dumb blonde jokes ex am ined were deemed gen der neu -
tral.
While the au thors were not sur prised the ma jor ity of the jokes were
about the ste reo typ i cal dumb blonde fe male, the fact that ap prox i mately one
third were gen der neu tral (a male could have been the sub ject of the joke)
was sur pris ing as was the fact that dumb blonde jokes spe cif i cally tar geted
men. As an ex am ple:
“There were two blonde guys working for the city council. One would dig
a hole; the other would follow behind him and fill the hole in. They
worked furiously all day without rest, one guy digging a hole, the other
Volume 24 Number 1 2005 1
Bi og ra phies
Mar ga ret B. Takeda, As sis tant
Pro fes sor of Man age ment, The
Uni ver sity of Ten nes see at
Chat ta nooga Col lege of Busi -
ness Ad min is tra tion, Dept.
6156, 615 McCallie Ave.,
Chat ta nooga, TN 37403.
Mar i lyn M. Helms, Ses qui cen -
ten nial En dowed Chair and
Pro fes sor, Dal ton State Col -
lege, 213 N. Col lege Drive,
Dal ton, GA 30720.
Paul Klintworth, Ex ec u tive
Co or di na tor, Med i cal Cen ter
Fac ulty Af fairs and Pro gram
De vel op ment, The George
Wash ing ton Uni ver sity, Med i -
cal Cen ter, 2300 Eye Street,
NW, Suite 719, Wash ing ton,
D.C. 20037.
Joanie Sompayrac, UC Foun -
da tion As so ci ate Pro fes sor of
Ac count ing, The Uni ver sity of
Ten nes see at Chat ta nooga,
Col lege of Busines Ad min is -
tra tion Dept. 6156, McCallie
Av e nue, Chat ta nooga, TN
37403
Downloaded by Professor Joanie Sompayrac At 15:18 07 November 2016 (PT)
guy filling it in again. An onlooker was amazed at their hard work, but
couldn’t understand what they were doing. He asked the hole digger, “I
appreciate the effort you’re putting into your work, but what’s the story?
You dig a hole and your partner follows behind and fills it up again.” The
hole digger wiped his brow and sighed, “Well, normally we’re a
three-man team, but the guy who plants the trees is sick today.”
If these ste reo types of blondes and blonde men in par tic u lar ex ist, do
they carry over into the work place? For ex am ple, does hair col our bias af fect
how man ag ers judge the com pe tency of em ploy ees and in par tic u lar their
com pe tency for lead er ship at the up per man age ment ranks? The pur pose of
this study is to ex plore the re la tion ship be tween hair col our bias and CEO
se lec tion. We ar gue, based upon sub stan tial the o ret i cal sup port from the so -
cial/psy cho log i cal lit er a ture, such bi ases do ex ist in to day’s busi ness world.
Fac tors Af fect ing CEO Se lec tion
Re search on CEO se lec tion in the United States in di cates ex ec u tives with fi -
nan cial back grounds were suc cess ful in gain ing con trol of the high est lev els
of cor po rate power as far back as the 1960s (Hayes & Ab er nathy, 1980).
This rise of fi nance per son nel, it is ar gued, led to a trans for ma tion in cor po -
rate gov er nance, re flected a strong fi nance bias, and shaped cor po rate
Amer ica for de cades to come (Ocasio & Kim, 1999). But the de cade of the
1980’s saw the de struc tion of cor po rate in sti tu tions as the fi nance em pires
be gan to crum ble. Merg ers, ac qui si tions, le ver aged buy-outs,
restructurings, bank rupt cies, and hos tile take overs were de ri gueur on Wall
Street. What emerged from this cha otic pe riod in cor po rate gov er nance was
the im por tance of the role of the CEO as a leader, a cat a lyst for change, and a
stra te gic vi sion ary. Lead er ship re search grew dur ing this time and CEO se -
lec tion be came a hotly con tested topic in man age ment re search (Paul,
Costley, Howell, & Dorfman, 2002 and Judge, Bono, Ilies, & Gerhardt,
2002).
Since the 1980’s, re search on lead er ship has con cen trated on per -
sonal at trib utes con sid ered es sen tial for suc cess as the Chief Ex ec u tive Of fi -
cer of a large cor po ra tion (Ocasio & Kim, 1999). The traits most as so ci ated
with suc cess ful CEOs as sume their lead er ship style to be based on a set of
com pe ten cies re lat ing to the op er a tion of a busi ness and the man age ment of
its em ploy ees. These traits in clude lead er ship abil i ties, high lev els of ed u ca -
tion and train ing, po lit i cal savvy and func tional ex per tise (usu ally fi nan cial,
mar ket ing, or op er a tional). These re quire ments all de scribe a cer tain com -
pe tency or work ing knowl edge re quired for per for mance at high lev els
(Coo per, 2000; and Jor dan & Schrader, 2003). Still other com pe ten cies in -
clude cre ativ ity, in no va tion, con tin ual learn ing, flex i bil ity, stra te gic think -
ing, vi sion, con flict man age ment skills, in teg rity, de ci sive ness,
prob lem-solv ing, tech ni cal cred i bil ity, hu man re source man age ment, in flu -
enc ing, and ne go ti at ing, to name a few (Jor dan & Schrader, 2003). In ter est -
ingly these com pe ten cies are not per son al ity traits re lated to be ing like able
but traits linked to spe cific job per for mance skills and ac tiv i ties.
2Equal Opportunities International
Hair Colour
Ste reo typ ing and
CEO Se lec tion
Downloaded by Professor Joanie Sompayrac At 15:18 07 November 2016 (PT)
Thus, com pe tency is cited most of ten as the crit i cal fac tor de ter min -
ing a CEO’s busi ness suc cess. But are these com pe ten cies ob jec tively mea -
sured dur ing the life long ca reer of the CEO as they climb the cor po rate
lad der? Or, could it be as the CEO-to-be de vel ops a rep u ta tion for be ing
com pe tent, this rep u ta tion cre ates a halo ef fect.
Are traits the key de ter mi nants of mo bil ity or are ste reo types in -
volved? Spe cif i cally does hair col our bias af fect the per cep tion of CEOs as a
com pe tent leader and if so, does it af fect their se lec tion? In ef fect, are blonde
man ag ers less likely to be come CEO merely be cause blonde is con sid ered to
re flect in com pe tence? Dis crim i na tion or bias based on skin col our and eth -
nic ity is widely doc u mented and le gally pro hib ited. Does hair col our bias
rep re sent an other form of “col our” dis crim i na tion?
In or der to an swer this ques tion, we ex plore the re cent re search on
ste reo typ ing bias which chal lenges the long held as sump tion: ste reo types
are role based, not con tent based. We then pro pose, be cause the na ture of ste -
reo typ ing of blonde hair is one of in com pe tence, bias against blonde male
man ag ers does ex ist. We dis cuss the im pli ca tions of this bias and rec om -
mend ar eas for fu ture re search.
The ory of Ste reo typ ing: Com pe tence vs Likeability
Glick, Fiske, Xu, and Cuddy (1999) in their ground break ing study chal -
lenged the long held as sump tion ste reo types were largely role based,
grounded in his tor i cal roles and em bed ded in the hu man psy che from gen er -
a tions of his tor i cal story tell ing. They hy poth e sised and later dis cov ered an
ar bi trary dy namic ex isted within all ste reo typed groups, re gard less of their
his tor i cal foun da tion. These man i fested as two com ple men tary im ages re -
cur ring across a va ri ety of outgroups, namely, com pe tent but cold (un lik -
able) ver sus in com pe tent but warm (like able). The au thors sug gest these
two di men sions un der lie many ste reo types and are mu tu ally ex clu sive when
ap plied to a ste reo typed group. As a re sult, ste reo types are more am biv a lent
than typ i cally con sid ered. More over, so cial struc tural vari ables pre dict
which groups will be viewed as com pe tent and which will be viewed as
warm.
Bargh (1999) in his ex am i na tion of ste reo types found ste reo types are
not un der mo ti va tional con trol as Neuberg (1989 and 1994) found, but they
are un con trol la ble and the re sult of un con scious ac tion. Bargh (1999) fur -
ther ar gues the ev i dence of con trol la bil ity is weaker and more prob lem atic
than pre vi ously re al ised.
Asch’s (1946) ear li est re search on per cep tions of an in di vid ual con -
trasted a warm, com pe tent per son with a cold com pe tent per son. His re -
search re vealed the mean ing of in tel li gence dif fered in a warm (wise)
in di vid ual and in a cold (sly) in di vid ual. Zannah and Ham il ton (1997:230)
ex panded on this early re search by show ing the sin gle trait rep re sent ing
warmth (cold) car ried more sig nif i cant mean ing. They ar gue ste reo typ ic
Volume 24 Number 1 2005 3
Hair Colour
Stereotyping and
CEO Selection
Downloaded by Professor Joanie Sompayrac At 15:18 07 November 2016 (PT)
con tent re sults from struc tural re la tion ships be tween groups (rather than
from so ci etal roles). Spe cif i cally, two groups, (1) com pe tent and cold and
(2) in com pe tent and warm rep re sent the so cial struc tural foun da tion for ste -
reo typ ing. Thus peo ple envy and re spect high-sta tus groups (wealthy peo -
ple) but do not like them and peo ple dis re spect low-sta tus groups (maids,
peo ple with dis abil i ties) for their in com pe tence but may like them. Also,
they ar gue twin di men sions of lik ing and re spect op er ate re cip ro cally, i.e.,
groups are high on one and or the other but not both at once.
In stud ies on ste reo typ ing (Glick, Fiske, Xu, and Cuddy, 1999; Asch,
1946), the traits con sis tently linked with com pe tency in cluded: in tel li gent,
con fi dent, com pet i tive and in de pend ent. The traits linked with warmth
(like able) were: sin cere, good-na tured, warm and tol er ant. They found six
groups to be sig nif i cantly more com pe tent than warm (high est to low est):
rich peo ple, fem i nists, busi ness women, Asians, Jews and North ern ers.
They found seven groups to be con sis tently more warm than com pe tent:
learn ing dis abled peo ple, house wives, dis abled peo ple, blind peo ple, house
clean ers, mi grant work ers and wel fare re cip i ents.
In this article we ex tend this frame work of ste reo typ ing to in clude
groups based on hair col our and per cep tions form ing around hair col our.
Spe cif i cally, we ar gue blondes tend to be ste reo typed as in com pe tent and
there fore may be more liked (pop u lar). Red heads on the other hand tend to
be ste reo typed as not like able (cold) and there fore com pe tent. We ar gue, be -
cause of this un der ly ing ten dency to dichotomise the two groups as com pe -
tent and cold (red heads) and in com pe tent and warm (blondes), man ag ers
and ex ec u tives will tend to pro mote the red heads over blondes. Other hair
colours (brown, black) do not share these ste reo types.
Hair col our: A Tra di tion of Bias
Bias or iden ti fi able ste reo types are de vel oped largely to make sense of out -
li ers or things or peo ple or prac tices dif fer ent from the mean (Roll and
Verinis, 1971). They are for mu laic over sim pli fi ca tions of con cepts, opin -
ions, or im ages. For these ste reo typed groups or in di vid u als, we at trib ute
them as em body ing or con form ing to a set im age or type. So cial groups for -
mu late ste reo types as a bi-prod uct of la bels given to out-groups. Ste reo types
are al most al ways de vel oped for “out” groups. We never la bel peo ple who
share our same at trib utes or be liefs.
Cambell (1967) and Le vine and Cambell (1972) sug gest ra cial ste -
reo types re sult from work roles. Phys i cal la bour ers are char ac ter ised as
strong and stu pid and plea sure lov ing, re sem bling an i mals and their evils are
sins of the flesh. Whereas, en tre pre neurs are clas si fied as grasp ing, de ceit -
ful, clever, and dom i neer ing and in hab it ing the sphere of com merce with its
ma te ri al is tic sins. Ste reo types emerge out of groups’ rel a tive sta tus and their
struc tural in de pend ence. Sta tus pre dicts per ceived com pe tence and in ter de -
pen dence pre dicts per ceived warmth. For ex am ple, one en vies and re spects
high sta tus groups for their com pe tency but does not like them. One dis res -
4Equal Opportunities International
Hair Colour
Ste reo typ ing and
CEO Se lec tion
Downloaded by Professor Joanie Sompayrac At 15:18 07 November 2016 (PT)
pects low sta tus groups for their in com pe tence but one may like them as they
ful fill roles the dom i nant group needs to be filled (Glick & Fisk, 1999).
Ac cord ing to Synnot (1987), hair is per haps the most pow er ful sym -
bol of in di vid ual and group iden tity – pow er ful first be cause it is phys i cal
and there fore ex tremely per sonal and sec ond be cause, al though per sonal, it
is also pub lic rather than pri vate. Synnot ar gues ste reo typ ing per me ates cul -
tural be liefs, as is ev i denced by dumb blonde jokes. In her 1992 study, she
found red heads to be cat e go rised as ac tive no-non sense ex ec u tive types
while blondes were found to be at trac tive and happy. Hair col our, al though
ap pear ing to be an in noc u ous phys i cal trait re mains a solid ba sis for ste reo -
typ ing.
Blondes: In com pe tent and Like able
In their 1986 study on blonde and red haired males, Clayson and Maughan
(1986) found blond males are per ceived to be strong, ac tive, and pleas ant in
de meanour. Their likeability was con sid ered to be much higher than their
red head coun ter parts.
In a re cent study con ducted in Ger many of 50 sub jects with learn ing
dis abil i ties, 10 sub jects (20%) were blond. In con trast, 121 of 1,067 sub jects
with out learn ing dis abil i ties were blond (11%). Sub jects with learn ing dis -
abil i ties were nearly twice as likely to be blond com pared with non-learn ing
dis abled sub jects. These re sults raise the pos si bil ity mel a nin may be in -
volved both in the de vel op ment of mo tor dom i nance and in de pend ently in
the de vel op ment of neu ral sys tems which, when maldeveloped, re sult in
learn ing dis abil i ties (Schachter, Ransel and Geschwind, 1987).
Red heads: Not Like able and Com pe tent
Ac cord ing to Coo per (1971) blonde hair tra di tion ally is ap peal ing, bru nette
hair lacks any dis tinc tive pos i tive or neg a tive at trib ute, but red hair has
“blazed an er ratic trail”. In a study by Feinman and Gill (1978) in which they
ex am ined “likes” and “dis like” pref er ences of op po sites based upon phys i -
cal at trib utes, they found over 80% ex pressed a dis like for peo ple with red
hair. In the same study, the skin col our of most red heads was the most dis -
liked of the eight skin colours. In their study they asked the re search ques -
tion, “Why is there such an aver sion to red heads?” Clayson and Maughn
(1986) at tempted to an swer this ques tion, find ing red headed fe males to be
un lik able but com pe tent, while red headed males were found to be un at trac -
tive and un suc cess ful. They con cluded red heads may be ste reo typed neg a -
tively be cause they are rare.
Heckert and Best agreed (1997) ar gu ing red hair has been stig ma tised
in part be cause it is rare (and there fore threat en ing as ex treme in its de vi a tion
from the norm) rep re sent ing only 1% of the pop u la tion. This stigma de -
creases the at trac tive ness value of peo ple with red hair, re sult ing in low
likeability scores. It is ar gued (Glick, et al., 1999) these low likeability
scores re sult in the am biv a lent as crip tion of “com pe tent”. Thus, red heads
Volume 24 Number 1 2005 5
Hair Colour
Ste reo typ ing and
CEO Se lec tion
Downloaded by Professor Joanie Sompayrac At 15:18 07 November 2016 (PT)
may not be like able, but it is the very na ture of their un-likeability which re -
sults in their be ing la beled com pe tent (Glick, et.al, 1999).
This leads to our re search ques tion: Does hair col our ste reo typ ing af -
fect se lec tion bias in the work place? Are CEOs with blonde hair
underrepresented as com pared to the per cent age of peo ple with blonde hair
in the over all U.S. pop u la tion (cur rently at 20% based on ex pert opin ion and
data from the World Health Or ga ni sa tion)? Are CEOs with red hair
overrepresented, as com pared to the per cent age of red heads in the US pop u -
la tion (cur rently at 2%)?
Meth od ol ogy
While this re search is ex plor atory in na ture, it does ad dress the pos si bil ity of
ste reo typ ing based on hair col our within the top ranks of the ex ec u tive suite.
The re sults should be im por tant to a num ber of groups in clud ing hu man re -
sources man ag ers, se lec tion com mit tees, boards of di rec tors and other top
gov er nance groups, share hold ers, and other stake holders.
Man u fac tur ers of hair col our, dyes, hair dress ers, sa lons, and other
sell ers and ap pli ca tors of such prod ucts would be in ter ested as well. Over
60% of the U.S. pop u la tion uses hair colour ing prod ucts and us age by men,
in par tic u lar, is in creas ing. This has been largely at trib ut able to the tight eco -
nomic cli mate and job mar ket and the need for a youn ger im age (not gray) to
se cure em ploy ment. Data from 1996 re ported ap prox i mately one in eight
Amer i can males be tween the ages of 13-70 dye their hair. This has dou bled
from ten years ago and the per cent age is ex pected to grow in the fu ture
(Brown, 1996). With the re sults of this re search, the col our choices, par tic u -
larly for the up wardly mo bile ex ec u tive may change
Even with per for mance man age ment pro cesses, lead er ship trait the o -
ries, lead er ship as sess ment cen tres, and other man age ment de vel op ment
pro grammes in clud ing out ward bound CEO train ing courses, in the end it
could be as sim ple as hair col our that de ter mines CEO se lec tion. Our un con -
scious pro cesses may pre clude us from se lect ing some one for the top man -
age ment po si tion based solely on their hair col our, even when other
quan ti fi able mea sures of lead er ship and lead er ship po ten tial ex ist and have
been val i dated by prior busi ness re search.
While the meth od ol ogy is ex plor atory, the sam ple used for the re -
search is well val i dated and is the 2004 For tune 500 list ing of com pa nies
(www.fortune.com). Us ing an nual re ports for the fis cal year 2003/2004 and
pho to graphs from www.ceo.com as well as www.google.com and
www.soople.com im age searches, the pho tos of CEOs were ex am ined to de -
ter mine hair col our. The CEOs were cat e go rised as blonde, red heads, black
hair, or bru nette. In bald or gray-haired CEOs, past pho tos were gath ered
from an nual re ports or the re search ers called or e-mailed the com pany’s hu -
man re source de part ment to de ter mine the orig i nal color of the CEO’s hair.
Of the 500 CEOs, 11 (2.2%) had blonde hair, 17 (3.4%) had red hair. The
6Equal Opportunities International
Hair Colour
Ste reo typ ing and
CEO Se lec tion
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other 460 (92%) male non-mi nor ity CEOs had brown or black hair. In ad di -
tion there were eight women (1.6%) and four Af ri can-Amer i can CEOs
(0.8%). Of the eight women, one was blonde and the re main ing seven had
brown or black hair.
These find ings were com pared to nor mal pop u la tion sta tis tics on nat -
u ral hair col our pro vided by the CIA Fact Book (www.cia.gov), and sup -
ported by fur ther re search (Snee, 1974) on hair col our and eye col our
dis tri bu tions. In the U.S. pop u la tion in clu sive, 25 per cent of the pop u la tion
is nat u ral blonde, 68 per cent is nat u ral bru nette (brown), two per cent is red -
head, and five per cent have black hair.
Data Anal y sis
Of the For tune 500 CEOs an a lysed, 2.2% were blondes and 3.4% had red
hair. Given that within the US pop u la tion, ap prox i mately 20% has blonde
hair and 1% has red hair, are our find ings sta tis ti cally dif fer ent than ex -
pected? Given U.S. hair col our sta tis tics, in our CEO sam ple we would ex -
pect to see 100 blondes or 20% of the group and we would ex pect to find five
(1%) CEOs with red hair. In stead we find only 11 are blonde (2.2%) but 17
(3.45) have red hair.
To test our hy poth e sis – Is the dis tri bu tion of hair col our of the For -
tune 500 CEOs the same as the dis tri bu tion of hair col our in the U.S. pop u la -
tion – a chi square sta tis ti cal good ness-of-fit test was com puted to de ter mine
if the ac tual CEO sam ple dif fered in hair col our from what would be ex -
pected. Whether women and mi nor ity CEOs were in cluded or ex cluded
from the com pu ta tion, the P-value for the sta tis ti cal test was zero in di cat ing
the two pop u la tions in fact, have sig nif i cantly dif fer ent dis tri bu tions.
Find ings
As would be ex pected from the lit er a ture re view, blondes, who are viewed
his tor i cally incompetent and like able, were underrepresented in po si tions of
lead er ship in cor po rate Amer ica. Red heads, while a miniscule num ber in the
U.S. pop u la tion, were over se lected to lead Amer ica’s larg est, wealth i est
com pa nies. Stereotypically this would be ex pected as red heads are per -
ceived to be com pe tent, though not par tic u larly like able. Over all, brown or
black hair is the pre dom i nant (and seem ingly pre ferred) hair col our of CEOs
in the For tune 500. As pre vi ously noted, hair col our ste reo types are not di -
rected to black or brown hair col our as these two hair colours rep re sent the
ma jor ity in the US.
Dis cus sion
Thus, neg a tive ste reo typ ing of hair col our does ap pear to af fect place ment
into lead er ship po si tions, par tic u larly at the CEO level. The dumb blonde
myth is not a myth. Per cep tion be comes re al ity and the pat tern per pet u ates.
By hav ing an aware ness of the is sue, fur ther in ves ti ga tion into the ste reo typ -
ing is im por tant. While the re search in di cated ste reo typ ing is un con scious,
Volume 24 Number 1 2005 7
Hair Colour
Ste reo typ ing and
CEO Se lec tion
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mov ing such aware ness to in stru ments in clud ing job screen ing forms could
help to coun ter the ac tions and pos si bly min i mise the ste reo type.
Our find ings are con sis tent with the view blondes are char ac ter ised as
more like able and pos si bly there fore less com pe tent. This ste reo type of in -
com pe tence, by def i ni tion, af fects the sta tus of blondes in so ci ety and in par -
tic u lar in the work place. We may con clude if a ste reo type op er ates to la bel a
group as in com pe tent, it also re stricts their abil ity to raise their sta tus in the
cor po rate hi er ar chy.
If se lec tion of CEOs is partly based on hair col our as this sam ple in di -
cates, does it con sti tute a form of dis crim i na tion? If so, is it co vert? Should
hair col our be in cluded in the Ti tle 7 Leg is la tion? col our as cur rently de -
fined in Ti tle 7 re fers to the shade of a per son’s skin and not race alone, be -
cause within a race, a va ri ety of skin colours can ex ist. The US and the world
in gen eral are of ten bi ased to ward lighter col oured skin tones. While Ti tle 7
cur rently re fers to skin col our, should it also in clude hair col our?
Lim i ta tions and Ar eas for Fu ture Re search
This study is ex plor atory. It is lim ited and uses a U.S. sam ple of the For tune
500 com pa nies. In ad di tion, the For tune 500 CEOs do not ac cu rately rep re -
sent the US pop u la tion as a whole for ei ther gen der or race dis tri bu tions. Ac -
cord ing to the CIA Fact Book (www.cia.gov), the US pop u la tion is 77.1%
white, 12.9% black, 4.2% Asian, 1.5% Amer i can In dian and Alaska na tive,
0.3% na tive Ha wai ian and other Pa cific is lander, and 4% “other” based on
the lat est 2000 cen sus data. (Note: His panic is not in cluded as a sep a rate cat -
e gory be cause the US Cen sus Bu reau con sid ers His panic to mean a per son
of Latin Amer i can de scent, in clud ing per sons of Cu ban, Mex i can, or Puerto
Ri can or i gin, liv ing in the US who may be of any race or eth nic
group—white, black, Asian, etc.). When con sid er ing gen der ra tios for the
US pop u la tion age 15-64, there is one male in the U.S. for ev ery one fe male
or a 50/50 ra tio. These de mo graph ics were not sim i larly dis trib uted in the
CEO For tune 500 group as only 1.6 per cent are women (where 50% would
be nor mally ex pected in the U.S. pop u la tion) and only 0.8% are mi nor ity
where 22.9 % would be ex pected in a ran dom U.S. pop u la tion sam ple.
In ad di tion, the sam ple in cluded only male non-mi nor ity CEOs. A
larger sam ple size should in clude women and mi nor i ties in other lead er ship
roles to test whether the ste reo type holds equally for both gen ders. A larger
sam ple of re spon dents in clud ing other lev els of top man age ment is also
needed. Hair col our should also be cor re lated with other lead er ship and
man a ge rial traits to de ter mine if cor re la tions ex ist.
Fu ture re search should ad dress the lim i ta tions of this re search as well
as val i date the pres ence of ste reo types in the top man age ment ranks. Re -
search with en tre pre neurs is needed to as sess whether hair col our pat terns
dif fer from the For tune 500 find ings. If so, did in di vid u als leave the cor po -
rate world due to mo bil ity chal lenges? In clud ing more lev els of man age -
8Equal Opportunities International
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Ste reo typ ing and
CEO Se lec tion
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ment, par tic u larly at the vice-pres i dent and cor po rate board of di rec tor
lev els are needed to fur ther ex plore these re search pos tu lates.
An in ter na tional, global sam ple should ex am ine pre dom i nantly
blonde cul tures of Ger many and Swe den to see what lead er ship dif fer ences
and ste reo types ex ist as well as re search in the pre dom i nantly non-blonde
cul tures of Asia in clud ing China, Ja pan, and In dia. This in ter na tional re -
search should ad dress other cul tural ste reo types of hair col our and co vert
dis crim i na tion is sues. Re search agrees Eu ro pean and Asian com pa nies look
to their own to fill the CEO chairs (Hymowitz, 2004). Is the dis trust of
Amer i cans part of the prob lem and is any dis trust re lated to hair col our ste -
reo typ ing?
Fur ther re search could test the ar gu ments with other job cat e go ries
within or ga ni sa tions, par tic u larly di vi sional or func tional level lead er ship
po si tions. This re search could be used to pre dict who gets pro moted in or
within or ga ni sa tions. Still other re search should cor re late hair col our with
other traits of in di vid u als in clud ing job ti tle plus height, weight, age, gen der.
This re search can also de ter mine which groups are like able and com pe tent
ver sus which groups are ste reo typed as like able and not com pe tent. Such re -
search can raise aware ness of hair col our ste reo types in hopes of chang ing
in grained misperceptions.
Volume 24 Number 1 2005 9
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Ste reo typ ing and
CEO Se lec tion
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Ste reo typ ing and
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... CEO characteristics have also been widely studied by careers scholars. Newer research has moved beyond observable demographic, educational, and work experience drivers toward examining a wider range of factors: values (Berson et al., 2008); characteristics such as achievement orientation or humanistic approach (Wood & Vilkinas, 2007); personality traits (Giberson et al., 2009;Nadkarni & Herrmann, 2010;Peterson, Walumbwa, Byron, & Myrowitz, 2009); and physical appearance, including hair color (Takeda, Helms, Klintworth, & Sompayrac, 2005), facial characteristics (Nana, Jackson, & Burch, 2010), and body weight (Roehling, Roehling, Vandlen, Blazek, & Guy, 2009). Scholars have also examined CEO behaviors, including transformational leadership behaviors (Fu, Tsui, Liu, & Li, 2010), social influence tactics (Stern & Westphal, 2010), and decisionmaking strategies such as intuition, integration, or decision-making shortcuts (Woiceshyn, 2009). ...
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Background: People with red hair account for just 1 to 2% of the population worldwide and suffer a degree of prejudice, particularly in the U.K. Aims: To investigate any relationship between hair colour and anxiety or depression, and to survey the experiences and opinions of people with red hair throughout the world. Method: 1742 people from 20 countries completed a survey including the HADS anxiety and depression scale, seven survey questions about experiences of bullying, and open ended questions about the representation of people with red hair in popular culture. Results from the HADS were compared between groups using t-tests and the survey and open ended questions were analysed qualitatively. Results: In this sample women with red hair in the U.S.A. were found to be less anxious and depressed on average while red haired men in the U.K. were found to be more anxious according the HADS scale, small effect sizes were observed. Possible explanations are discussed. There was found to be a high prevalence of bullying against people with red hair and dis-satisfaction with the role of entertainment media in portraying red haired people Conclusion and implications: People with red hair are at high risk of bullying victimisation and are depicted using negative stereotypes in popular culture. This may contribute to anxiety disorders and depression. Implications for government policy regarding education and hate crime laws are discussed. Further research should be carried out on adolescents, in the U.K. in particular to determine the relationship of hair colour to anxiety and depression using more appropriate measures.
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Purpose – To introduce a model which examines the relationship between recruiters’ perceptions of image and the stigma of image norms. Design/methodology/approach – This paper examines the influence of image norms on recruiters’ perceptions of applicants during interviews and explores the manner in which recruiters may stigmatize applicants. A model is presented which explores how image norms may be used to stigmatize applicants and affect recruiters’ decisions. Findings – Image norms are found to have an influence on recruiters’ evaluations of applicants during the interview process. Research limitations/implications – Empirical tests of the model are suggested to illustrate how image norm violations lead to stigmatization during the recruitment process. Practical implications – Applicants who are denied entry into organizations on the basis of their appearance or image, experience a subtle, yet unacceptable form of employment discrimination. Organizations need to ensure that they are not excluding potential employees who do not meet the image norm expectations of recruiters. Organizations need to make sure that the image norms used to evaluate applicants are not a proxy for discrimination based on protected characteristics. Originality/value – This paper looks at image, a broader construct than physical attractiveness, to ensure equal opportunities for everyone. This is the first paper to consider the discriminatory effects of image in organizations.
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This article examines the relationship between gender, hostile sexism, benevolent sexism and reactions to a seemingly innocuous genre of sexist humor, the dumb blonde joke. After hearing an audiotaped conversation in which two students swapped dumb blonde jokes, participants high in hostile sexism rated the jokes as more amusing and less offensive than those low in hostile sexism. Among individuals low in hostile sexism, however, benevolent sexism interacted with gender. Specifically, men high in benevolent sexism found the jokes significantly more amusing and less offensive than either women in the same group or men low in both hostile and benevolent sexism. This study replicates and extends previous research examining the relationship between hostile sexism and the enjoyment of sexist humor, and underscores the possibility that benevolent sexism may represent qualitatively distinct attitudes for men and women.
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The field of career studies is increasing in prominence and relevance for modern life in general and working life in particular. CEOs’ careers, especially, have received growing attention because their impact goes far beyond their personal sphere. Not surprisingly, this topic has been at the intersection of multiple literatures. In this introduction for the special issue on CEOs’ careers, we first review the different perspectives in studying CEOs’ careers, and then offer several directions to integrate those multiple perspectives. The articles in this special issue not only provide us with comprehensive new knowledge on CEOs’ careers, but also represent valuable examples of how to integrate different perspectives on this topic.
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Selection processes are critical to identifying and employing those individuals who will perform well on the job. Selection of senior management is equally as significant, requiring the selection process to be effective and robust. The Senior Executive Service (SES) selection process for the Department of the Navy (DON) is analyzed. Some practical insights and recommendations generated by this analysis are offered.
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The impetus for the present srudy was the serendipitous findings in an attempt at replicating a study by Wilson (1968). He had shown that the perceived height of a person increased with perceived status. A pilot study was conducted in which a target person was introduced to one group of 13 student subjects as a new professor and to another group of 10 subjects as a student janitor. Thirty minutes after the target person left, che students were asked to recall his physical characterisics. Both groups correctly remembered the target's height within less than 0.2 in. of his actual height, replicating the findings of Lerner and Moore (1974). The finding of interest, however, was that 62% of the "professor" group remembered the target as being blond and 15% remembered him as a redhead. In the "student janitor" group only 10% remembered him as a blond and 60% remembered him as a redhead (blond: Z = 2.45, f~ < 0.01). The target person was a strawberry blond with a flaming red mustache. A quick review indicated that haircolor has been associated symbolically with personal attributes, but the pattern appears to be mixed. Clowns, Howdy Doody, Lucille Ball, Red Skelton, Red Buttons, and probably Judas Iscarioc had/have red hair. Marilyn Monroe, Jessica Lange, and Steve Canyon are blonds. But then, Ramses 11, Cleopatra, Queen Elizabeth, and Thomas Jefferson, as well as Ann Margaret (occasionally) were redheads and Hitler was particularly fond of blonds. Nevertheless, the students in the above mentioned study appeared to be sharing a common stereotype based on haircolor. Very few investigations of preference by hair color have been conducted. Lawson ( 1971), one of a few who have studied this problem, found that for all men and women, for 42 comparisons, redheaded men were rated significantly superior on none. In fact, neither dark nor blond men saw redheaded men as superior on any trait. Women rated redheaded men cnly as "safe".
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Doth not nature itself teach you, that if a man have long hair it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her. So wrote St. Paul to the people of Corinth (1 Cor. 11: 14- 15); the shame of one sex is the glory of the opposite sex. Indeed the debate over hair symbolism is both ancient and complex, and applies not only to gender but also to politics, as Hippies, Skins and Punks, among others, have recently demonstrated. Hair is perhaps our most powerful symbol of individual and group identity powerful first because it is physical and therefore extremely personal, and second because, although personal, it is also public rather than private. Furthermore, hair symbolism is usually voluntary rather than imposed or 'given'. Finally, hair is malleable, in various ways, and therefore singularly apt to symbolize both differentiations between, and changes in, individual and group identities. The immense social significance of hair is indicated by economics: the hair industry is worth $2.5 billion in the USA (New York Times, 7.1.85).
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Research has shown that human partners are more similar than expected by chance on a variety of traits. Studies examining hair and eye colour show some evidence of positive assortment. Positive assortment may reflect attraction to self-similar characteristics but is also consistent with attraction to parental traits. Here, we examine self-reported partner hair and eye colour and the influence that own and parental colour characteristics have on these variables. Parental characteristics were found to correlate positively with actual partner characteristics for both men and women. Regression analysis predicting partner characteristics from maternal and paternal traits (which controls for own traits) revealed the greater importance of the opposite-sex parent over the same-sex parent in predicting both hair and eye colour of actual partners. The findings may reflect an influence of parental colour characteristics on human partner choice. Attraction to opposite-sex parental characteristics is seen in a wide variety of animals where it is usually attributed to imprinting processes in infancy. Although the mechanism is unclear and not necessarily confined to infancy, the data reported here are consistent with a somewhat analogous process to imprinting occurring in humans.
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Candidate physical attractiveness, sex, and age, along with rater age and sex, are assessed in terms of their ability to affect recommendations for promotions. Forty personnel professionals evaluated eight candidates for a regional manager position using simulated assessment center data in a 2x2x2 repeated measures design. Results indicated a small, favorable bias in favor of attractive candidates, consistent with prior research. Applicant sex, applicant age, and rater sex were unrelated to recommendations, but rater age explained 14% to 21% of the variance in three recommendation ratings. Younger raters were observed to be more lenient. In addition, some small interactions effects were detected. Continued research on physical attractiveness and rater characteristics is advocated on grounds that even small effects may be substantively significant when the number of qualified applicants exceeds positions available.
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We adopted a strong inference epistemological approach and confronted predictions derived from 2 competing paradigms that attempt to explain poor evaluations and slow organizational advancement of female managers as compared to male managers. Participants viewed a video tape of a manager (female, male) occupying identical roles in the organizational structure and using 1 of 2 forms of influence behaviors (direct or indirect). The prediction of the social-role model was that female managers would receive more negative evaluations than did male managers when using (sex-role incongruent) direct influence behaviors. The prediction of the structural model was that there would be no gender-based differences and there would be a main effect for influence use (because direct influence is more congruent with the managerial position than is indirect influence). Supporting the structural model, ratings of managerial power, leadership effectiveness, managerial attributes, and reactions to an influence attempt were affected by the type of influence used and not by gender.