I was sitting in a meeting today, when we were talking about the need for an impressive barrister to help us with a tricky regulatory issue. Our solicitor talked about one potential candidate, “he’s got the right amount of grey hair”.
It reminded me of when I was consulting. Putting a a project team together for a job proposal, we would often talk about the need for a bit of grey hair to impress the client. After a while, I realised that this was a completely sexist phrase.
When you are looking for “a bit of grey hair” to add cachet to a project team or a piece of advice, theoretically, you are just looking to impress the client with the experience you can bring to bear. But in actual fact, the person that comes immediately to mind from the phrase is the experienced, 50-something man.
I used to joke about dying my hair grey so that I could get that coveted position on the project team. But the phrase isn’t really about grey hair. It’s about an idealised view of a senior executive – who is always a distinguished looking, silver-haired man.
Of course most women that age would be dying the grey out of their hair anyway.