Women in the barber shop


“Should women be served in a barber’s shop?”

It’s a question that pops up every now and again and always causes debate. Some feel that the barber shop is one of the only places remaining where men can truly act like men, and so women should not be served. Others argue that refusing women is simply not acceptable in the modern era.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society which promotes equality and rights for women, told Stylist.co.uk last year that: “The law says it’s illegal to discriminate on the grounds of sex unless there can be an objective justification.”

With this in mind, if a woman comes into any of my shops and asks for a traditional barber cut then I am happy to oblige – their sex is irrelevant. I have plenty of regular female customers that come in for fades, tapers, flat tops, patterns and more. I have even cut the hair of many transgender customers. They all leave with a smile on their face and a haircut that they are proud of.

However, that’s not to say that if a woman was to come in and ask for a perm or a long-haired wash, cut and blow-dry I might advise that they would be better looked after in a salon. This refusal is based on my judgement that they will receive a better result from a hairdresser than a barber, and not that I don’t welcome them into my shops.

I know that there are long-lasting traditions in our trade, but we need to evolve with the times and understand that we now work and live in a diverse world. If we stick to ‘traditions’ too strictly, then where do we draw the line?

At the end of the day, if you refuse to serve female customers you’re risking your own reputation and you’re potentially damaging your profits – you have to consider the bigger picture.

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