Black women with natural hairstyles – including curly afros, twists, or braids – are less likely to get job interviews than white women or black women with straight hair.
The research, first reported on by CNN, was done by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business and is set to be published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science next week.
The study involved hundreds of participants of different races, who were asked to screen potential job candidates in the same way as recruiters, giving them a score for competence, professionalism, and other factors, based on fake Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
In three studies, participants were selected from the general population. A study comparing attitudes in management consulting and advertising involved MBA students.
The researchers said participants gave black women with natural hair lower scores for competence and professionalism and didn’t recommend them for interviews as often, as compared with black women with straight hair, white women with straight hair, or white women with curly hair.
In one instance, two groups were asked to evaluate the same black woman job candidate. One group was shown a photo of the candidate with natural hair, while the other saw an image of her with straight hair. The latter group gave the candidate a higher score for professionalism and recommended her more strongly for an interview.