1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Long Hair OK in Medical Physics?

  1. Feb 24, 2007 #1
    Hey all,

    Just wondering if anyone happens to know whether long hair on a man (tied neatly in a ponytail) is acceptable to hospitals and clinics if you are going to be working there as a clinical medical physicist. I myself have long hair and I knew it wouldn't be an issue while I was planning on staying in academia as a physicist, but I recently switched to Medical Physics and will be looking for jobs as a clinical medical physicist soon.

    Thanks for any info!

    P.S.-- I forgot to mention: I am in the U.S., and am asking about the U.S. in particular.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2007
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 24, 2007 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    If long hair is acceptable for a woman in a medical physics clinic (or any other healthcare setting), why wouldn't it be acceptable for a man? If it wasn't, wouldn't that be considered some kind of discrimination?
  4. Feb 24, 2007 #3
    I work in a medical physics department and I can't remember seeing anyone who actually has long hair, most have fairly short hair as is the fashion these days, except the women obviously, however it's not forbidden, I myself have long to very long hair at times and although I do not work with patients directly, there's little anyone can do to stop you from growing it long.

    In my country at least if women are allowed to have there hair long, then it is sexual discrimination to suggest that men can't(precisely Hage567) Unless of course this interferes with there work in some way.
  5. Feb 24, 2007 #4
    Hey there. What country are you in? I had forgotten to mention that I am in the U.S... I completely agree that it is discrimination but on the other hand, that's how society's norms are these days, which I think is totally retarded. Anyhow, it might be that hospitals don't have any explicit rule about it, in which case it would be OK, but I guess what I really want to know is, will I need to cut it for my interviews? That is when they can discriminate without anyone accusing them of discrimination, because they could always say the person wasn't hired only because he "wasn't qualified" or something...
  6. Feb 24, 2007 #5
    Discrimination can happen easily without them getting in trouble for it so yes, if person who is intervewing you doesn't like poeple with long hair, even if your qualified he will pick someone else.

    Its like what happened to my friend in a wheelchair, he had a job interview all lined up, he was ready go to get interviewed and he sent an e-mail a few days before asking if the building was handicap accessible, and the man wrote back, sorry there will be no need to interview we found someone.

    I deal with it everyday, being 2 years post operation from breaking my neck, if I have to go a long distance I also must use a wheelchair and people are all freaked out by it, but when I go to class, and I use forearm crutches they are so helpful opening doors and they actually smile when you walk past them thinking I only broke my leg.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2007
  7. Feb 24, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    It has to do with social customs. I got some static when I started allowing my hair to grow longer. The concern was related to 'professional' appearance. During further elaboration, it was indicated that 'hair over the ears' was preferred or desired.

    So I put my hair in a ponytail.

    Working in food service or the medical services professions, one must observe appropriate hygience. So a man with a beard and/or long hair may be required to wear a hair net. Facial as well as cranial hair nets exist. :biggrin:
  8. Feb 24, 2007 #7
    My senior year of high school (about five years ago), I worked in a medical physics area of a clinic. As far as I could tell, there was nothing that would make long hair a problem. As far as I can tell, they work mostly with medical imaging devices, so I can't conceive of any issue with long hair.
  9. Feb 24, 2007 #8


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    I agree that you the thing you have to consider is the possible prejudices of the person hiring you.
    I also work in a hospital/cancer clinic, and there is no shortage of people with long hair in any department that deals directly in clinical situations with patients. In food services or laboratories or in the O.R. you will of course have to wear hairnets and the like, but that goes for everyone.
    IMO, there are some "short" haircut styles out there that I find to make a person look much more unkempt/unprofessional than long hair pulled back neatly in a ponytail.
  10. Feb 25, 2007 #9
    Cool. I have absolutely no problem in wearing my hair in a ponytail. I just don't want to have to cut it. Even for an interview, I feel like if I get a trim so it's all even, trim my facial hair, pull back my hair into a nice neat ponytail, I will look pretty decent. Hopefully that should suffice.

    May I ask, are you a medical physicist? If not, what do you do?
  11. Feb 25, 2007 #10
    Thanks for the response. Are you in the U.S.? Your hospital sounds cool, haha. At the hospital here at the University of Minnesota I haven't seen a long-haired male doctor or medical physicist. I will ask some of the medical physicists what their take is on whether or not I will need to cut it short for interviews, but hopefully your hospital is not a rare one in this matter.
  12. Feb 25, 2007 #11
    Well eventually I'm going to graduate as an engineer with dreadlocks. Hopefully that is OK because they wont be coming off for a long long time.
  13. Feb 25, 2007 #12
    I'm sure an employer wont say that he's not hiring you because you have long hair , but like many other professions, you just wont get the job. Though if your looks tidy then you have as good a chance as anyone.

    And as for the dreads, hopefully you grow out of them by the time you graduate !
  14. Feb 25, 2007 #13
    You're gonna want to lose the dreads.
  15. Feb 25, 2007 #14


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    I am a nuclear engineer in the nuclear industry, which is rather conservative. As long as I keep it neat, or in place, most people don't have a problem with it.
  16. Feb 25, 2007 #15
    This confuses me. You're a nuclear engineer - what roll does your hair play in this? Shouldn't your bosses and clients be more concerned with your ability and competence rather than that your hair fits in a certain category?
  17. Feb 25, 2007 #16
    Probably different than here, here someone could quite legitamately refuse to cut their hair and there is nothing anyone can do about it unless it would interfere with there job in some way, then as mentioned you could wear a hair net, FYI though the only place I've seen hair nets(or more correctly hats) In my hospital is on surgeons or nursing staff in theatres. A girl who works in medical physics who deals with patients all day has long hair and does not wear any sort of net, so there is no technical reason why you couldn't have long hair.

    My advice though to be sensible is to cut it for the interview and then see how your bosses feel when you start to grow it long; however you could feel like a crusader for the fight the power movement, but to be frank if it's going to cause a lot of raised eyebrows and gnashing of teeth by the management, it's probably easier to just go with the sheeple; works like that, some people are amazingly anal about such things:smile:.

    Oh I'd get used to it, appearances are often taken very seriously, even in jobs where you have no contact with the public or anyone outside of the company, being in management usually entails you are somewhat bureaucratic and anal about such things anyway, it's probably more relaxed in scientific fields, but in the world of the working Joe, there are a frightening amount of people who get bent out of shape by such things, my theory is to get into middle management in non-scientific jobs, you need 6 things to remain permanently mired in the middle management area .

    1) Above average intelligence, but not too bright or you may get promoted.
    2)A very anal attitude to rules and bureaucracy(believe me laid back bosses are a rarity, at least in my experience)
    3) Above average communication skills.
    4) Obsessive compulsive tendencies are handy but not essential.
    5) A lack of imagination, or ability to work around rules when the situation demands it.
    6) a subservient and obsequious attitude to your masters(at least at face value, although many have this ingrained anyway)
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2007
  18. Feb 25, 2007 #17
    Almost half of the guys in my physics classes have grown out their hair over the past years. This is Germany, though..
  19. Feb 25, 2007 #18


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Yeah - that is my philosophy. On the other hand, I interface with high level managers and even some corporate VP and P's. The dress style is 'business' - but then I never cared for suit and tie. Personally, I prefer bare feet and jeans. :biggrin:

    The company management and clients recognize my abilities and competence. But they also prefer that I look business-like.
  20. Feb 26, 2007 #19
    Yes, that is how it should be.

    Reality is different.
  21. Feb 26, 2007 #20
    it's really going to depend entirely on the attitude of the people interviewing you and the ones doing the hiring. Regardless of the ability and competence to do the job, you're going to be working in a clinical environment interacting with patients and other professionals who are expected to maintain a professional and neat looking appearance. Some people may not consider long hair on a guy (even if it's tied neatly back) to be professional and neat. It probably won't matter much to the physicists you end up working with, but upper level management and other co-workers may have different feelings.

    The places you get an offer from are most likely going to be the ones that don't feel you and your long hair are going to be a problem, or don't care enough about it to make it a hiring issue. That's probably the kind of place you want to work in anyway.
  22. Feb 26, 2007 #21
    Could you possibly call into a few hospital HR departments or something similar and just ask some anonymous questions about it?

    You might also be able to locate some people in your field of interests which you can e-mail and ask them if they have any idea. I know this all sounds sort of random but I don't really know how else to verify.

    I have long hair (not like pony tail long, just down to to my chin but it's styled and layered in a different way, ok i'm getting into some fashion subject here that's not relevant) but I always trim like 2-3 inches off and make sure I am well shaven before any interviews.

    Although, I work in large, san diego based law firms, so the attire is professional. The only reason that I make sure that I look proper is because I have not recieved jobs that I was the most qualified for because I had a somewhat shaggy appearance (didn't shave my face once).

    Ever since then, I figured I would go to interviews looking clean cut and straight and then once I got acclimataed, grow my hair out. They can't fire you for long hair, unless it's stipulated somewhere in their contract (if that is even legal).

    It's up to you. You could try a few interviews with long hair and see how it goes. Or, you can explain in your interview, that you don't mind cutting your hair if that's necessary.
  23. Mar 1, 2007 #22
    I remember the question on the GD forum, why should I have to wear a suit, no one could give a good answer, it's just tradition basically, there is nothing behind it, no reasoning, no sense, business and work are just like that through a history of being presentable in work, a suit goes with a businessman just as a sailors uniform goes with a sailor, appearances get sales, etc,etc,blah,blah,blah as to the reasoning behind it? Beats everyone.

    It's even more incomprehensible with guys having long hair? Why does it matter? In what reality would anyone base there opinion of you and your work on the length of your hair? Is anyone in the universe that shallow? No but apparently if your in management, you think everyone is or you wouldn't be umming and ahhiing about it? Case closed, management in some cases can be more anal than reality dictates, if asked why they object they wouldn't be able to rationalise it, the mere fact that your asking this question means you know that this sort of discrimination happens in the work place, anyone got any idea why? Nope....Anyone present a good case for descrimination, nope, in my country I'd sue your arse off if you even thought about sacking me for it, and I'd win too going on precedent, several cases have done just that and won substantial compensation for it:tongue2: :smile:

    Shame you can't do the same thing, oh well.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2007
  24. Mar 1, 2007 #23
    As already stated, it is merely the status-quo. This is what people are raised to believe consitutes formal dress and so this mode of thought perpetuates the cycle, indefinitely.

    You can't restructure the corporate world, unfortunately, so we must conform if we wish to be employed.
  25. Mar 1, 2007 #24
    or you creae your own corporate world/ rebel and start your own business/ stay in academia.

    but I'm young and more rebellious than most here, I have no one to care for so when I graduate I can go and do whatever I feel is right for me, and one of the things that I feel is right for me is a lack of a business suit. and I don't mind being poor for a while.
  26. Mar 1, 2007 #25
    I've had to wear a business suit since I was 18 to support myself. Law offices pay the best and require the least amount of effort (typing skills, basic knowledge of english, basic knowledge of law and some basic thinking abilities). I have had no choice but to conform if I want to maintain both an apartment and money to go to school.

    I agree with you, though, cpl.Luke and outside of work, I look and act drastically different.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook