Tattoos on Women in the Workplace – What do you think?


I just read a recent article by Kristen Asleson in which she talks to several business owners about their thoughts of tattoos on Women in the workplace and if having a visible tattoo does in fact hinder your ability to find work. Read the article below and then we would love to hear from business owners and what they think about visible tattoos on men or women in the workplace. Leave your comments below.

“It used to be that more men than women got their bodies adorned with body ink, and it was much more acceptable and less “noticed” than if a woman had a tattoo.

I remember thinking as I grew up that women with tattoos were probably members of a motorcycle gang or something.

Those perceptions don’t hold true nowadays, as tattoos for women are gaining more and more social acceptance. Women with tattoos — and yes, I have them — work in a variety of industries; some hold entry level positions while some work in top executive positions. Some are administrative assistants, some are teachers, and some are politicians.

What about visible tattoos on women in the workplace? Is body art a workplace issue? And, do those visible tattoos say anything relevant to the job about the individual who has them?

At the risk of criticism, I will share my opinion. I have tattoos, but they are not in a visible place, as like many other women.

My tattoos have sentimental meaning, and that’s why I have them. When I got my tattoos, I kept in mind that they may not be acceptable if visible when trying to find work or having a job.

My sister, on the other hand, is an artist with the opinion that if she were looking for employment, “employers should hire me for my skills and capabilities. Employers should not not hire me because I have a fork and a swallow tattooed on my arms.”

Clearly, two differing opinions, which we sometimes go round and round on. We had to agree to disagree on this topic.

In today’s marketplace, most employers have a tattoo policy in place. Most policies read, “Visible tattoos are not allowed.” However, most companies’ tattoo policies pertain to employees who work with the public, and not to employees who are behind the scenes (and yes, they can do that).

I had a friend who once had tattoos on the tops of both her hands. Although she was a very talented administrative assistant, she could not find a job. She finally took the advice of a potential employer and had her tattoos removed — a long, painful process. Almost immediately, she found a job.

Here are some opinions from local women who hire workers at all levels.

One woman told me, “No visible tattoos has always been my rule of thumb.”

Another says, “If I had two equally qualified women vying for the same position, and one had visible tattoos, I would choose the one without.” Although her own opinion is that tattoos are OK on women, she believes, “The general public has a preconceived notion about women with tattoos, and I don’t want it to affect my business.”

From a woman who hires for both manufacturing and office positions: “It would depend on the position. If it were a manufacturing position that required no contact with the public, it would not matter. However, if there is interaction with customers of any sort, then it would depend on if the tattoo could be covered up or not. I would not make a hiring decision based on whether or not the person has a tattoo.” She also shared her opinion for those women contemplating getting a tattoo: “They really need to think about what their tattoo will represent and how it may affect their career choice.”

And finally, a comment that’s probably common to many women: “I am personally impressed by tattoos and love having them, but I do not care to see them at the professional level.” The woman who told me this has six tattoos but hides all of them, as she feels it’s a personal choice and has no need to show them off.

So, even though tattoos are more socially acceptable, think twice about where you position your butterfly tattoo or skull-and-crossbones.

As one HR director says, “You may not get fired for having a visible tattoo, but it likely means you won’t get hired, either.”

Article written by Kristen Asleson, an administrative specialist with Express Employment Professionals in Rochester.

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2 Responses to Tattoos on Women in the Workplace – What do you think?

  1. nova says:

    It really depends on where you live and what field you are planning on going into as well. Here on Vancouver Island (Canada), if you’re going into the medical field you can have knuckle tattoos and full sleeves and nobody even bats an eye. But try and get a job at Starbucks and they will turn you away. Weird, but true.

  2. david says:

    If the Tattoos are not disrespectful then it’s cool. I’ve hired women that have tats and was later told by my boss that I’ve made a bad choice! I questioned him and said give me the reason why. He stated that its trashy and sulty! I don’t want that perception at my work place. Once he saw their performance on the job, he changed his mind. The work place deals with the public outdoors and not an office type setting so job skill and performance out weighted appearance. I won…and so did my employees

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