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Hair Colour Stereotyping and CEO Selection: Can You Name Any Blonde CEOs?

Margaret B. Takeda (Assistant Professor of Management, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga College of Business Adminis tration, Dept.6156, 615 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37403)
Marilyn M. Helms (Sesquicentennial Endowed Chair and Professor, Dalton State College, 213 N. College Drive, Dalton, GA 30720)
Paul Klintworth (Executive Co ordinator, Med ical Center Faculty Affairs and Program Develop ment, The George Washington University, Medical Center, 2300 Eye Street, NW, Suite 719, Washing ton, D.C. 20037)
Joanie Sompayrac (UC Foundation Associate Professor of Accounting, The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, College of Busines Administration Dept. 6156, McCallie Avenue, Chattanooga, TN37403)

Equal Opportunities International

ISSN: 0261-0159

Article publication date: 1 January 2005



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.



Takeda, M.B., Helms, M.M., Klintworth, P. and Sompayrac, J. (2005), "Hair Colour Stereotyping and CEO Selection: Can You Name Any Blonde CEOs?", Equal Opportunities International, Vol. 24 No. 1, pp. 1-13.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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