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This Silicon Valley CEO Dyes Her Blonde Hair Brown To Be Taken Seriously

Silicon Valley CEO Eileen Carey has revealed that she dyes her blonde hair brown and swaps contact lenses for glasses in order to be taken seriously as a woman working in tech.

Carey, whose company Glassworks provides companies with software to engage a more diverse workforce, told the BBC that dyeing her hair and ditching blow dries and manicures helps her better engage with the majority male investors in her start-up. In doing so, she was acting on the advice of a woman working within the same sphere.

‘The first time I dyed my hair was actually due to advice I was given by a woman in venture capital,’ she revealed. ‘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.’ In other words, the male investors would feel more comfortable with a situation they’re used to (ie. being faced with a brown-haired woman) than with an unfamiliar one (ie. the prospect of a blonde-haired woman heading up a company) and would thus be more likely to take a risk and invest. This is despite the fact that a recent study by the University of British Columbia found blonde women to be more likely to become the CEO of a company.

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‘Being a brunette helps me to look a bit older and I needed that, I felt, in order to be taken seriously,’ Carey added, alluding to the fact that her blonde hair had previously drawn unfavourable comparisons with Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO of controversial start-up Theranos (who, incidentally, is set to be played by Jennifer Lawrence in a forthcoming biopic).

Eileen Carey with blonde hair

Silicon Valley is, of course, known for its boys’ club atmosphere, where women are often side-lined from high-powered roles or paid significantly less than similarly qualified male colleagues (see the fallout from the leaked Google memo earlier this summer for the depressing proof). There is also a widespread problem of sexual harassment.

‘For me to be successful in this [tech] space, I’d like to draw as little attention as possible, especially in any sort of sexual way,’ Carey told the BBC. ‘I want to be seen as a business leader and not as a sexual object. Those lines are still crossed very often in this space. There’s a problem in our industry, period, around sexual harassment.’

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