A new study confirms that black women with natural hair face more hair discrimination in the workplace.
For many years, within the Black community, we have spoken about our personal experiences of workplace racism – including hair discrimination.
Those hidden stories of employers requesting for locs to be cut or fros to be hidden are now openly spoken about – mostly on social networking sites. This means people outside of the Black community are more aware of the biases towards us.
What is “Good Hair Study”?
The Perception Institute partnered with Shea Moisture to better understand the connection between implicit bias and afro-textured hair, the studies have been documented in the “Good Hair Study”.
How was the data collected for the “Good Hair Study”?
4,163 participants were surveyed using the online Implicit Association Test (IAT). It included a national sample of 3,475 men and women. Plus, a sample of 688 women from an online natural hair community.
The test involved rapidly-changing photos of black women with “smooth” and afro hair, and rotating word associations with both.
Why the “Good Hair Study” is importance?
We did not need a study to tell us that hair discrimination exists. But this study supports the many stories of black women who have received unfair treatment in the workplace for having natural hair. Too often our voices are ignored and not considered a form of racial discrimination. The findings in the “Good Hair Study” back up Black women’s experience in the workplaces and their barriers to career growth and financial freedom.
The specific findings of “The ‘Good Hair’ Study: Explicit and Implicit Attitudes Toward Black Women’s Hair” includes:
- The majority of participants, regardless of race, show implicit bias against Black women’s textured hair.
- Black women who are part of an online natural hair community are more likely to show a preference for Black women’s textured hair.
- White women in the natural hair community are three times more likely to be neutral than white women in the national sample, though the majority still show a preference for “smooth” hair.
Also, the survey found, as for women’s’ attitudes toward their own hair:
- Almost all women worry about their hair to some extent; Black women experience high levels of anxiety more than white women.
- One in three Black women reports that their hair is the reason they haven’t exercised, compared to one in ten white women.
- One in five Black women feels social pressure to straighten their hair for work – twice as many as white women.
- Black women are more likely to report spending more time on their hair than white women.
- Black women are more likely to report having professional styling appointments more often than white women.
- Black women are more likely to report spending more money on products for their hair than white women.
- One in four Black women have difficulty finding products for their hair -more than half have not been able to find products for their hair
Alexis McGill Johnson, executive director and co-founder of the Perception Institute, said:
“Wearing natural hairstyles has deep political and social implications. From the classroom to the workplace, bias against natural hair can undermine the ability of black women to be their full selves and affect their professional trajectory, social life, and self-esteem.”
About the Perception Institute
Perception Institute describes itself as “a consortium of researchers, advocates, and strategists who translate cutting edge mind science research on race, gender, ethnic, and other identities into solutions that reduce bias and discrimination, and promote belonging. We work in sectors where bias has the most profound impact – education, healthcare, media, workplace, law enforcement, and civil justice.”