Short-Haired Women Might Be More Successful, But It Doesn't Really Matter

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Elizabeth McGovern attends The Radio Academy Awards at The Grosvenor House Hotel on May 12, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Source: Ben A. Pruchnie/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

I'd like to think we live in a world in which I can do what I like with my hair without limiting my career options, but clearly we don't live in that world just yet. Lately, there's been some speculation about whether women with short hair are more successful in business.

Like most "women and appearance" studies, this idea is more about perception than anything else. According to some recent academic studies, women with long hair are often seen as more high-maintenance and possibly more fertile (read: more likely to take maternity leave) than short-haired counterparts. 

Writer Mona Chalabi noticed that a career advice book from 1978 told women that hair should be "shoulder length, no longer." Thinking that this must be outdated wisdom, she looked at the Fortune's list of 50 most powerful women in business from 2013 and noticed something peculiar: all but eight of them had tasteful, above the shoulder bobs. From this, she concluded that there may be a correlation between success and the "power bob."

But here's the thing: it's 2014 and I don't care what "studies" tell me I should do with my hair. More then half of the powerful men in this world are grey and balding and they don't give a damn. The only reason that women with power bobs may be more successful is because of a sexist conception that femininity does not equal the strength and savvy required to make it in business. This is, frankly, insane.

The power bob is a safe, nonthreatening haircut that is assertive without being too domineering. Clearly, not all short hair is equal to success. You don't see very many Tegan and Sara pixie cuts on that chart, now do you?

I'm a freelance writer, so I could have a shaved head and a tattooed scalp (I don't) for all anyone cares and still do fairly well. But that's not the point. The point is that we need to stop being so hung up on the tiny details of a woman's appearance and how that affects our confidence in her as a CEO or politician or editor-in-chief.

Ladies, never cut your hair for a job.


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