Written by Rebekah Herrick, a professor at Oklahoma State University, the study showed candidates pictures of men in Congress with and without facial hair. They were also shown on a scale, including clean-shaven men, men with stubble, men with goatees, and men with full beards.
"Pictured members of Congress with facial hair were perceived by our student subjects as more masculine, and less supportive of feminist issue positions, although not more willing to support deployment of force," she wrote. In other words, according to people's perceptions, men with beards are less "concerned" with the plight of women.
However, perceptions do not match reality.
"But did the actual voting records of members of the 110th Congress back up such perceptions?" Dr. Herrick asks. "We examined roll call votes and found no evidence that legislators with facial hair voted any differently from those without facial hair. On women’s issues and legislation pertaining to the use of force, there were no significant differences between the voting records of Congressmen with and without facial hair."
That said, politicians might need to consider the politics of having a beard because of this. "Our research suggests men with facial hair can be elected, although some voters, particularly women and feminists, may be less likely to vote for candidates with facial hair," she explains. "Given that possibility, however subtle, male politicians may need to think strategically before they put away their razors, especially if they are concerned about attracting women voters."