The natural hair movement has become a force within the beauty industry with more and more Black women embracing natural textures. Despite that, many still have to fight racist attitudes linked to natural hairstyles.

New data collected by the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University shows many companies still discriminate against Black women wearing natural hairstyles and found that they were deemed less professional than women with straight hair.

“In many Western societies, Whites have historically been the dominant social group, and, as a result, the standard for professional appearance is often based on the physical appearance of Whites. For women’s hair, that benchmark is having straightened hair,” said Ashleigh Shelby Rosette, a senior associate dean at Duke.

“When a Black woman chooses to straighten her hair, it should be a personal preference, not a burden to conform to a set of criteria for which there could be adverse consequences,” she said.

The study found that women who worked in a less conservative and more creative environment like ad agencies faced less discrimination. “Some organizations strip away biographical information, such as a person’s name and other clues about gender or race from [job] application materials. This procedure is known as blinding and has been shown to reduce similar types of bias as what we found in our research,” Rosette said.

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