Workplace discrimination in Delaware: Can long hair hold men back?

Sue Thomas, works in a North Wilmington medical practiceFrom Hair to Eternity

When it comes to long hair, men face just as much—and maybe even more—discrimination than women. Men with long hair are often viewed as youthful, immature and free-spirited. It’s an attitude that cuts across all countries and all workplaces, but especially in business schools and at the management level. 

“Would I recommend long hair for the corporate world? Probably not,” says Ginny Rodgers, owner of Studio One Eleven Day Spa and Salon for Men in downtown Wilmington. “Men don’t have the option, nor do they want to pull it up in a chignon or tie it back in a ponytail.”

Rich Neumann, assistant director of communications for the city of WilmingtonOr do they? You might not know him by name, but Rich Neumann is easily identifiable by the waist-length ponytail he wears as he makes the rounds as assistant director of communications for the city of Wilmington. Just looking at him, it’s hard to believe he used to wear a crew cut in his early 20s. But 12 years ago, he dispensed with regular haircuts. “I just didn’t like going to the hairdresser,” he explains. “All the small talk and stuff.”

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But Neumann doesn’t think flouting convention has held him back—quite the contrary. “I’m a public relations specialist, so anything that helps me stand out is a plus,” he says. “I think it would be more of a shock if I cut it, because it’s become so much a part of my identity. Now I’m evaluated according to my qualifications, which is as it should be.”

Michele Weiner, English teacher at Mt. Pleasant High SchoolBut for Mark Murphy of Centreville, shorter means more credibility. “If you have somebody walk into the conference room that has uncommonly long hair, it’s a distraction,” says the 55-year-old transportation consultant who recently scissored his modestly long locks. “Whether anybody wants to admit it or not, it is.”

Plus, he admits he’s all thumbs with a blow dryer. Would he ever consider growing his hair in again? “Maybe,” he says. “When I retire, head to the beach and get a fishing boat and don’t have to worry about it.”



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