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Female CEO says she was told to dye her hair because brunettes are taken more seriously than blondes


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A female CEO has revealed she dyes her hair brown in order to be taken more seriously at work.

Eileen Carey, a successful Silicon Valley CEO, has naturally blonde hair but began dying it brown after she was advised by a colleague that the investors she was pitching to would be more at ease liaising with a brunette woman.

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Speaking to the BBC about the advice she was given, Carey said:

"I was told for this raise [of funds], that it would be to my benefit to dye my hair brown because there was a stronger pattern recognition of brunette women CEOs.”

Pattern recognition is a theory based on the idea that people feel more comfortable with familiar experiences and people, with this familiarity making them more likely to take make decisions and take risks.

Carey cited another reason for dying her hair: she does not want to attract unwanted attention and therefore feels adapting her appearance by changing her hair colour and dressing in an androgynous fashion prevents people looking at her in a sexual way.

She feels changing her look is important in being taken seriously as she says there is a “fetishisation of blondes” that can be distracting.

"For me to be successful in this [tech industry] space, I'd like to draw as little attention as possible, especially in any sort of sexual way," she explains.

While Carey’s attempts to come across more professionally by changing the way she looks may seem extreme to some, several studies have found many people do think brunettes look more professional than people with blonde hair.

In 2009 a study commisioned by Superdrug found 62% of people think brunettes look more professional than blondes in the workplace.

Another study, published this year, found one in four women have been cautioned over their appearance in the workplace and women are more likely to be cautioned on their looks than men.

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