Nontraditional style: Southern Tech student nominated for statewide Breaking Traditions Award while excelling in cosmetology course

Michael Smith
Southern Tech student Francisco Doughty practices his craft on classmate Heaven West. Training for and excelling in a field dominated by women, Doughty has been nominated for the statewide Breaking Traditions Award.

As cosmetology students at Southern Tech prepare for various competitions this spring, Francisco Doughty carries a sense of confidence when he talks about his upcoming barbering competition. The Ardmore High School senior is concurrently enrolled in a certification course dominated by women, but Doughty doesn’t seem phased by the gender stereotypes associated with cosmetology.

“To be honest, it don’t bother me as much as I think other people think I should be bothered by it,” he said on Friday.

The 18 year old was recently nominated for the Breaking Traditions Award, an award from the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education Equity Council that recognizes people who have chosen training programs based on personal abilities rather than gender stereotypes.

Winners will be announced later this spring, but Doughty isn’t getting too hung up on it. He expects to graduate at the end of this semester, when he’ll earn both his high school diploma and a license from the Oklahoma State Board of Cosmetology. Soon after, he hopes to begin cutting and styling hair at an existing shop to gain experience before one day opening a shop of his own.

According to Southern Tech cosmetology instructor Kristal McCathern, Doughty isn’t just good for a male student, but he’s one of the best students she has taught in 25 years as an instructor. While she says gender stereotypes around cosmetology are beginning to crumble — her first years of instruction saw fewer than five male students — the field is still dominated by females.

“We have the stigma that cosmetology is only for girls, and that is not the case,” she said.

When Doughty first joined the cosmetology program, he expected to be pigeonholed as a barber. “When I first came in, I really didn’t know anything about cosmetology, all I really knew was that I wanted to cut hair,” he said. As time went on, he learned how to color and highlight hair, as he now knows how to give perms, curls, and other styles.

The cosmetology course also teaches other styling methods like make-up and nails, and Doughty admits that he’s pretty good at cosmetology outside of barbering. But he knows that his chosen career path will fill an important market.

“All guys want to look good and being here just teaches you how to look better, so that’s just how I feel about it,” he said.

Doughty explored other programs offered at Southern Tech and was impressed with some of the design classes, but knows cosmetology is the best path for him to achieve his career goal. He currently serves on the Southern Tech student senate and McCathern said he is an asset to her classroom. “He does everything I ask of him and when I push him, he doesn’t break,” she said.

Cosmetology students at Southern Tech also get out of the classroom from time to time and practice their craft with nursing home residents and special needs students. As a result, Doughty has learned how to deal with a wide variety of clientele before he even has received his high school diploma. He admitted the experience made him nervous before, but it was something he easily overcame.

“The kids love me, there’s a great little connection between us,” he said.

He said his family gives him plenty of support and he, in return, gives haircuts. “My mother, she’s fully supportive of it because she wants me to cut her hair,” Doughty said. “I cut my dad’s hair, too, so you know he’s cool with it.”

McCathern hopes to see more young men joining the field of cosmetology and pointed out the only difference between her industry and barbering is a straight razor. She believes more students like Doughty will eventually change the tide, but the young man doesn’t seem too focused on changing society.

“I’m just working toward something that I felt that I’ll be good at,” he said.