Attractiveness and Gender – the effect of Length of hair on the authority of Manager Women

In today’s society, the variety of hair-trends of women and men are enormous. Long, short, middle, all in combination and different colours as mash or balayage. There seems to be a never-ending variety. On the other hand, there is a high monotony of hair-styles in business work environments, especially the length of hair of women. We often find a repeated hairstyle. So, the question now is if there is a significance of hair in organizations and if yes, what effects and gender ambivalence follow.

In the text from 1994 Silvia Gherardi talks about the Gender we think and do in our everyday organizational lives. It is her who sets off an avalanche with the statement that woman with over-long hair have a “sexiness” that clashes with the role of a woman manager, the authority that this confers and therefore her success.

In the literature, short hair is seen as an excessive masculinization, whereas overlong hair has the aftertaste to be to “sexy”. So, neither to short nor to long hair seems to be recommendable for a woman to be a manager.

In companies as well as presented in the internet, manager women often wear medium-length hair. It seems the perfect length to attract (but not too much) and to emanate authority at the same time. So being in or out of tune plays an eminent role in a women’s business day and it affects her career.

A very interesting point of Silvia Gherardi is the fact, that we are often not aware that we obey a concrete rule what to wear. We just feel that it would be wrong and out of tune in some Organizations to wear loose hair or to wear to much colour for example (see blogpost From Hair to Style – why dressing correctly makes you more successful).

Having said that men struggle with different problems. Whereas the length of hair of woman are a symbol of sexiness, men’s long hair might be seen as scruffy. Manager men often wear a short cut the women’s symbol of excessive masculinization.

Concluding it is to say that woman’s hair lengths indeed influence how a woman is seen in a company. If she wants to become a manager, there is undoubtedly no way than going with the flow if you want to be successful. But this is also valid for men. Even though from another perspective, but to become successful is not as easy as cutting the hair in the right length. Nevertheless, there are always women and men around the world who are successful regardless of their length of hair (Silvia Gherardi 1994).




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