Sunderland lecturer says people shouldn’t be judged on having tattoos

Dr Rebecca Owens, lecturer in psychology at the University of Sunderland.
Dr Rebecca Owens, lecturer in psychology at the University of Sunderland.
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A Sunderland lecturer has spoken about how having tattoos doesn't stop her being an academic.

Social media has this week been inundated with scientists who are refusing to conform to stereotypes.

Lecturer Dr Rebecca Owens.

Lecturer Dr Rebecca Owens.

The hashtag #stillascientist has been trending as psychologists, zoologists, geologists and experts from all science backgrounds fight back against conventional opinion of who they are, what they do, and, most importantly, how they appear.

Among them is Dr Rebecca Owens, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Sunderland, who has spoken out about how she deals with judgements, based purely on her physical appearance.

She said: "I can't count how many tattoos I have, I can't even count the hours spent being tattooed any more. I also have six piercings.

“To be honest, I tend not to notice if people are looking at my tattoos, but people I am with notice it."

Dr Rebecca Owens

Dr Rebecca Owens

She said people often tell her she will regret the tattoos and say she will never get a proper job.

Rebecca said: "I think we do all judge on appearances - our brains are lazy and have developed ways of taking in a lot of information very quickly and efficiently.

“In ancestral times, making snap judgements resulted in more right than wrong conclusions and it was very efficient.

"But society is very different now, and we have to adapt to new incoming information.

“Being able to see beyond snap judgements and integrate incoming information as appropriate is needed. Often people can't - or won't - see beyond a snap judgement."

She said her interest in body art has led her into exploring this as a research topic. She wants to generate new research around body modifications.

Rebecca said: "Being tattooed doesn't change how effective I am as an academic, but working in a supportive department does.

“Work hard and be yourself - no one should be working hard on being someone that they are not.

"I do think society is becoming more accepting of tattoos, as they become more common. Even in the last 10 years say, their popularity has increased hugely.

“We see reality TV programmes about tattooing now, we see celebrities parading tattoos, we see professionals with tattoos.

"My message to young girls – and young boys – is simple; always be yourself.

"If someone dismisses you because of a misjudged first impression, that says more about them than it does about you, and has no bearing on your ability or your worth.

"I told my mother if I couldn't get a job because of how I look then it was not the type of people I wanted to work with or the type of environment I wanted to work in.

“I work in a great place with amazing and supportive people, doing something that I love.”

#stillascientist has been trending around the world as professionals make their feelings known.