Hair Today, Tenure Tomorrow

A study of 1800 male UK academics reveals that professors are twice as likely to have beards as lecturers:

Women in academia lose out by a whisker: While 10.5 per cent of lecturers were bewhiskered, the figure rose to 13.6 per cent for senior lecturers, 16.7 per cent for readers and 21.4 per cent for professors.

The study's authors suggest that whatever it is that makes departments like hairy faces may also contribute to discrimination against women:

One theory is that being unshorn makes men more likely to be appointed to professorships, as facial hair is linked with high testosterone and aggression.

Hmm. Does that mean that if I want to convince my students that I'm really just a pussy cat then I should shave my beard?

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6 Responses to Hair Today, Tenure Tomorrow

  1. Evelyn Blaine says:

    Alternative explanation: a lot of male professors abandon the clean-shaven, neat look after tenure, when they no longer have to worry so much about being judged on their appearance. For what it’s worth, my unscientific observations suggest that fashion sense also drops markedly among the tenured of both sexes. (The elegant – and I’m thinking hand-tied, yes? – bow tie sported by the owner of this blog in his faculty photograph is, of course, evidence that there are exceptions.)

  2. Michael says:

    Oh always a real tie, never one of those fake things.

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  5. Chris says:

    The differential attrition can be due to a lot of things–academic life often asks for unacceptable sacrifices (e.g., neglecting family) in order to get tenured or even that 1.5% end-of-year merit increase. Or so says Mrs. Mentor, anyway.

  6. Andy says:

    Cf. Neal Stephenson’s “Cryptonomicon,” wherein Randy Waterhouse’s soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend, who’s also a English professor, writes a theoretical critique of beardedness in men and its patriarchal implications—Randy, at the time, being bearded.


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