Bullish Q&A: Half-Shaved Haircuts, Interviews, and Lady-Mentors

I was just reading through some of your articles (I reread them when I’m in need of career strength) and I’m in the process of girding my loins and applying to jobs out of state and moving, all the while planning a wedding.

My question came about from reading this article.

To preface: I have short hair, very short on the right side and gradually increases in length to form an array of curls on the left side, no longer than right below my jaw. It’s very trendy, and I love it, especially after so many years of boring hair.

The problem is that now that I’ll be getting interviews (optimism!) I’ll be applying to architecture firms. I worry that my hair will send the wrong message about me.

So, do I rock the hair and put together a fierce but appropriate interview outfit to match, or should I slick it back and don’t release it until I’m hired?

The pictures are for reference. My hair is a combination of the two, but my own natural brunette color.

– Rihanna

ps. I’m trying to get myself a lady architect mentor, and so far, nothing. Sigh.

Dear Rihanna,

Good question, and awesome hair! In fact, your hair sounds positively … architectural.

I’d go with it, but let the shaved part grow out enough (get it nicely trimmed around the ear area, etc.) that it comes across as “short” and not “shaved,” much like the second photo you sent.

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I find that men and conservative types in general have all kinds of stereotypes about shaved heads and the people who have them (for women, mainly “feminazi,” although there’s also “skinhead”) that they do not necessarily have about people with “crazy” asymmetrical hair. You could be wearing a birdcage on your head, as I once saw in a fashion show, and that would look kooky but not threatening in the way, apparently, a small patch of your scalp would be.

A “kids these days…” reaction to your hair, if coupled with other young, cool attributes about you (a fresh take on architecture and amazing computer skills!) could work out just fine. A “scary feminazi” reaction will not help you, no matter how unfair it may be.

Good luck,

p.s. Male mentors can sometimes be even more valuable in that you already have a woman’s perspective on things (your own), and the environment in which, say, a 45 year old female architect had to build her career is probably wildly different from the environment in which you’re building yours. That is, the last 20 years have changed career-wise for women more than they have for men.