A research paper published in a military medicine journal has concluded that the US Air Force’s ban on beards is racist, potentially setting a policy change into motion.
The research paper in question was published last week in Military Medicine, which falls under Oxford Academic.
“Regulations of the United States Air Force (USAF) prohibit male members from growing beards,” the paper read. “Shaving waivers can be issued to airmen who are not able to shave due to various medical conditions such as pseudofolliculitis barbae, a condition that predominantly affects Blacks/African-Americans.”
The paper, written by 8 medical officers within the USAF, claimed that “beard growth has been anecdotally associated with a negative impact on career progression,” and that the study “sought to establish if shaving waivers are associated with delays in promotion and, if present, if this association leads to racial bias.
A total of 51,703 survey invitations were emailed to members, and about 20% were returned.
The research document concluded that the study found an association between shaving waivers and delayed promotions, noting that “the majority of the waiver group was Black/African-American, which may lead to a racially discriminatory effect of the male grooming standards of the USAF.”
The results of the study can be found here.
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