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Women's Empowerment

Should your employers decide what you wear to work?

Prateeksha Nayak
27th May 2016
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“I [23F] was employed in an office as a switchboard operator/phone receptionist for five years. In my department, we only dealt with people over the phone and never in person. We recently got a new supervisor. After his first week, he called me into his office and said he noticed that I did not wear makeup to work. When he asked if it was a regular thing, or if I had just been sick or off or something, I told him it was a regular thing (other than once as teenager, I had never worn or owned makeup). He said going forward, I would have to wear makeup or regretfully he would have to let me go. I asked if this policy would apply to everyone in the office, and he said only women but all the other women already wear makeup so it was just me he had to speak to. I told him I would not be wearing makeup and the following day when I came in without makeup I was terminated by the manager (the supervisor’s boss). On my termination paper, the reason given was: insubordination – refusal to wear makeup,” writes a 23-year-old working woman on Reddit.

Only recently, Nicola Thorp was all over the news for something that brought out an ugly truth. She was dismissed from her temporary job at a finance company in the UK after she refused to wear high heels. Since then, her story has garnered a ton of attention online; the company that dismissed her changed its dress code policy; and more than 100,000 people have signed a petition in support of changing laws that allow employers to force women wear to high heels to work. 

yourstory-whatwomenweatowork

Repeated studies have found that there is a social cost for women who negotiate pay raises that doesn’t exist for men.

A paper in the Harvard Business Review shows women were more likely than men (57: 43) to receive what the researchers termed “vague praise”—feedback not tied to any actual business outcome (“You had a great year”). Men were more likely to receive praise connected to their actual contribution to the company. Feedback for women focused intensely on communication styles, particularly the critique that the employee was “too aggressive.” The researchers found that 76 percent of references to being “too aggressive” were found in the women’s reviews, which left only 24% in the men’s.

What’s also been doing the rounds on social media is a picture of a woman’s bleeding feet. The picture was posted by Nicola Gains, a resident of Edmonton, Canada. She claims that her friend’s feet started bleeding after working a full shift at a Canadian restaurant called Joey.

In her Facebook post, she said that her friend was “berated” by the manager for changing into flats despite her feet bleeding. She also talks about the restaurant’s policy where women are expected to wear heels and even buy a uniform worth $30, while men can wear black from their own wardrobe.

Last year, the Cannes Film Festival was criticised after telling women to wear high heels on the red carpet, while in 2014 a woman writer for The Telegraph was refused entry to a London restaurant in flat shoes. Actress Julia Roberts turned heads this year as she sashayed down the red carpet barefoot at the premiere of her new movie Money Monster, as if to condemn the festival’s red carpet dress code for women.

More and more actresses are speaking up against the prejudice that women at events like these are subject to .

“Things have to change immediately. It has become really obvious that if [a man and I] were walking the red carpet together and someone stopped me and said, ‘Excuse me, young lady, you’re not wearing heels. You cannot come in.’ Then [I’m going to say], ‘Neither is my friend. Does he have to wear heels?’ It can work both ways. It’s just like you simply cannot ask me to do something that you are not asking him. I get the black-tie thing but you should be able to do either version—flats or heels,” Kristen Stewart said at a roundtable for her new film, Café Society.

As more incidents keep popping up every other day, it is our appeal to women to stand up against all these ridiculous practice and rules. Don’t keep quiet, speak up, let’s talk about it. After all, it’s not your body but the body of your work that needs to do the talking.

You can sign Nicola Thorp’s petition against high heels here.

 

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