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Hands off the beard

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 2:19
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By Brian Clegg

A beard can clearly be seen

My suspicion is that it’s one of those times of year when newspapers print silly stories (actually, given this year’s news, that’s been all of 2016). And this mean that the PR industry goes into overdrive producing press releases to feed the appetite for the quirky.

Yesterday I received a missive from BV Media, telling us that a company called London Offices surveyed 1,000 UK office workers and discovered that Beards at work are now a major turn-off say 61% of female office workers.

We don’t have access to the actual survey details, so it may well be low quality in sampling etc. However, I feel I have to stick up for beardies. We’ve had enough prejudice in the past. Infamously, when Gordon Gould was developing his laser, he was refused security clearance – and one of the reasons for the refusal was that two of his referees had beards, so were clearly subversive.

In fact, when you read the detail, even the press release has to reveal that its headline is totally inaccurate. The 61% figure was for women who said that an ‘unkempt beard’ was a ‘big irritant’. (By comparison only 10% of men did.) That’s a very different proposition to beards in general. And though, for instance, 25% of women felt their company had lost business due to employees’ beards (versus just 1% of men), again this was ‘due to a bearded colleague’s appearance.’

It seems that the objection is primarily due to ill-kempt or over-long hipster beards, not beards per se. There are always going to be a few people who don’t like beards at all, just as some don’t like very short/long hair, or tattoos or even the most basic piercings. But it seems that, on the whole, as long as we keep our beards neat, we are not going to bring Britain’s businesses crashing to their knees. Phew.

Now Appearing is the blog of science writer Brian Clegg (, author of Inflight Science, Before the Big Bang and The God Effect.


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