Reader Poll - Tattoos in Science

Apr 03 2009 Published by under Uncategorized

I am thinking about getting another tattoo these days and I am seriously considering getting something that would be visible when wearing short sleeved shirts, so it probably wouldn't be long before it was noticed in my department. I'm not exactly the type to get something offensive, so I'm not worried about that, but I do wonder a bit whether it would change the opinions of some people. Certainly tattoos are on the rise and plenty of scientists have them, but there remains a generational difference in opinion on them. Therefore, recognizing that this audience is a skewed sample, I have two questions for you today and over the weekend:

A) If a colleague in your department had a visible tattoo (which would be covered for classes, etc.) would you think of them differently?

B) If YOU got a visible tattoo, how do you think it would be perceived in your department?

16 responses so far

  • PhysioProf says:

    (A) No. I wouldn't give a flying fuck, unless it was some kind of face thing like Mike Tyson..(B) No one would give a flying fuck, unless it was some kind of face thing like Mike Tyson.

  • Odyssey says:

    Shortly after starting my TT position I got my ear pierced (my wife dared me). The only people who said anything were the administrative staff and they professed to like it. Not the same as a tattoo, but still.So to answer your questions:A) I personally wouldn't care if a colleague had a visible tattoo. Nor would I care if they left it uncovered when teaching.B) Some would want me to keep it covered while teaching, but I suspect most wouldn't give a rat's rear end.

  • Professor in Training says:

    (A) No, but it would depend on what the tattoo was and where it was located. (A forearm tattoo of a naked woman doing weird things with a snake might raise some eyebrows.)(B) A couple of my colleagues have already seen my non-supposed-to-be-visible tattoo accidentally and it just reinforced how supercool I am (not to mention widening the age gap between us).I'm about to get another tattoo in a slightly more visible area but I doubt whether it will make the slightest bit of difference. As long as I continue to do work of a higher quality and quantity than my colleagues they don't have anything to complain about. I posed a somewhat related question a while back that was picked up by DrugMonkey and the responses to that might help your decision.

  • Ambivalent Academic says:

    1) Yes - I would think that they were WAAAAY cooler than the other faculty.2) I have a couple that are not generally visible (unless I wear more revealing shoes - generally not in the lab)...when people find out about them I don't get the impression that their opinion of me changes in the slightest. Nor do I think it would if I got a more visible one (I already have some visible piercings)...unless it was on my face or something distracting like that.

  • chall says:

    A. It depends on what it is* but usually I wouldn't mind at all. As long as they are coverable for teaching/presenting things.*the naked girl, svastika, gang tatoos... well, you know... B. My "not really visible" tattoo was discovered by my lab mates a bit into my post doc. They think it is ok, and that it shows that I am not from around here (the south). then again, if you show up with tattoos here that are visible, they are most likely presumed to be gang tattoos (due to location) or just a bit off. did I mention I am in the conservative South?(I found out that my boss has two tattoos...I have yet to see them though. He clearly keeps them to himself, although it is easier for men with tattos on their upperarms. I don't know if he knows I have one though.... and he is not really likely to see mine either 😉 )

  • chall says:

    I am sorry that I mis-spelled tattoos through the last entry.And another thing, in my old work place my tattoo made people more annoyed/upset but i think that was due to the fact that they found out after I'd been there several years and they were a bit "how come you didn't show it off before". People are strange.

  • Dr. No says:

    A) No.B) I'll have to get back to you on that, I'm thinking about getting one.DO IT!!!

  • Mad Hatter says:

    I'm with Ambivalent Academic. Seeing a colleague's tattoo would make me find them more interesting!If I got a visible tattoo, nobody would say anything to my face, but there'd be a lot of raised eyebrows. People in my department dress very conservatively. I blame all the MDs.

  • Professor Anonymous says:

    A) No. And what's the point of getting a "visible" tattoo if you're going to cover it up, even "during classes"? I would think THAT is strange. B) I don't give a damn what they think about my tattoo, I give a damn what they think about my work. If they can't separate the two in their minds, they're cretins and unlikely to be able to judge my (or anyone's) work effectively anyway.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    A forearm tattoo of a naked woman doing weird things with a snake might raise some eyebrows.Damn, there goes that idea...It's interesting to note that no one would have any reservations. I'm not sure I would have even thought about it except that one of my students has a decent-sized forearm tattoo and several people have commented about to me. Nothing really negative, but it's clear that people have noticed and find in noteworthy enough to say something to me. At the same time, because he is a student it is looked a little bit differently (I think) than if I were to show up on Monday with one. It's actually been a really good test case.

  • Arlenna says:

    I have one that is sometimes visible, and I don't get any hassle about it from my colleagues. It's a Charles Rennie Mackintosh design though, so it just looks like some arts & crafts stained glass (pretty innocuous).

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Well, the design I am looking into is inspired by this table.

  • Anonymous says:

    I think tattoos are totally lame. But I wouldn't hold it against you if you got one and it was visible.

  • Prof-like Substance says:

    Damnit Mom, I thought you said you wouldn't leave passive-agressive comments anymore. Hahahaha.

  • gnuma says:

    I have a tattoo on my bicep. Small, but if I wear an evening gown or sleeveless tank it would show. I think my field, evol. bio, is probably the *last* place you'd have to be concerned about a tattoo...

  • [...] I'm busting out two questions I posted some time ago when I first started thinking about this [...]

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