A site called Media Curves, which does studies of "Americans’ perceptions of popular and controversial media events and advertisements," did a survey looking at people's perception of a woman wearing hijab. Some of the results were not surprising to me, for instance the woman in the picture with hijab was perceived to be older, married, and more likely to be a stay at home mom. She was also seen as having less education, which I expected, but the percentage of people who thought she had a post-graduate education increased a little bit too. More people assumed the woman with hijab came from a wealthy family. Both pictures were of the same woman, but 16% rated the picture of her without hijab as "beautiful" while 27% thought she was beautiful with hijab. Interesting! The discouraging bit was that 19% of the respondents said they would prefer the woman with hijab to live outside the US, as opposed to only 1% for the woman with her hair showing.
I think this study would be more interesting if they had tested a variety of styles of hijab/Islamic dress and other religious and ethnic dress. I wonder if any of the respondents were Muslim?