I recently read an article about a CEO, who upon hiring a stylist, updating his haircut, and getting new headshots, claimed to be taken much more seriously, and even saw a boost in his own confidence and leadership abilities. But in an industry that's known for it's casual office environment, and where there is a larger emphasis on work speed than professional appearance, it's easy to let other's perception of us get skewed. Is this something we in the tech industry should be concerned with? Would young entrepreneurs be taken more seriously if they were to focus on their professional image?
I'll take it a step further - Blondes Have More Fun, Brunettes and Black Haired folks are deemed to be more serious, and Red heads are seen as being more emotionally volatile.
And it does matter. Ms Magazine did an interesting study some time about sending out artificially tailored resumes with and without photos and the photos were some in B&W, some with red hair, some with blonde hair and some with brown and black hair. And there was a decided trend in what sort of jobs different hair colors were given more callbacks on.
Another example is a friend of mine who's daily dress in the summer was a muscle shirt and cutoffs (he is a very talented developer) upon deciding to retire from Microsoft, engaged the staff of the weekly MSFT internal newsletter (this is pre Web World) on publishing an April 1 newsletter with a letter by him talking about the need to dress less sloppyily because "sloppy dress indicates sloppy thinking".
The resultant pontification on dress codes made this a brilliant April Fools joke, while at the same time demonstrating that in fact there is a dress code even amongst developers. At the time BillG was known for wearing Dockers and a button shirt open at the collar. And letter after letter made reference to Docker's wearing program managers not being trusted by developers.
when I was a Technology Evangelist I found that by "dressing for the audience" I could improve the receptiveness of my audience to my message if I dressed to signal that I was part of THEIR tribe. (clothing as a social signal is well researched http://web.media.mit.edu/~sandy/TR-579.pdf).
but more importantly - I'm a blonde and somewhat athletic. I look a lot like a California Beach Rat. For me to be taken seriously in any technical or management meeting, I need to be dressed just a little bit more formally than would be expected for that meetingif I want to be taken seriously.I've experimented with this albeit anecdotally and it is culturally dependent: I do business in US, EU and Japan, and the cultural norms are different.
So to some extent the person who was talking about being a Green Haired 20yo. actually that was SIGNALLING a particular message. It seemed to have worked for his audience at the time. But it may well have precluded being taken seriously by other audiences.
So yes. the image you project IS IMPORTANT. If you choose to think about it - you need to think about it in the framework of cultural expectations and understanding what cultural signals you are sending regardless of how you dress. And then chose to act based on that understanding
In the U.S. population, about 14.5% of all men are six feet or over. Among CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, that number is 58%. Even more strikingly, in the general American population, 3.9% of adult men are 6'2? or taller. Among my CEO sample, 30% were 6'2? or taller.
Of the tens of millions of American men below 5'6?, a grand total of ten-in my sample-have reached the level of CEO, which says that being short is probably as much, or more, of a handicap to corporate success as being a woman or an African-American.An inch of height is worth $789/yr in salary. A 6-ft man earns $5525 more/yr than a comparably qualified 5'5". Compounded over years, this amounts of hundreds of thousands of dollars.