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In fact, perhaps one the clearest instances of inherent sexism at the workplace was when a female employee was forced to wear high heels at work despite losing a toenail.
Recently, make-up artist Nicola Gavins, a resident of Alberta, Canada, posted a photo of her friend’s bloody feet after working a shift where she was made to wear high heels while doing her job.
“My friend’s feet were bleeding to the point where she lost a toenail and she was still discouraged and berated by the shift manager for changing into flats (specifically told that heels would be required on her next shift the following day),” Gavins wrote.
Additionally, the case of Nicola Thorp, 27, a receptionist at PwC’s London office being sent home without pay for refusing to wear shoes with a “two to four inch heel” has also caught global attention.
In fact, her petition calling for the law to be changed so companies can no longer force women to wear high heels to work has received more than 135,000 signatures so far.
In the UK, the government needs to respond to all petitions that get more than 10,000 signatures and the parliament considers all petitions that get more than 100,000 signatures for a debate.
“I was a bit scared about speaking up about it in case there was a negative backlash,” she told The Guardian.
“But I realised I needed to put a voice to this as it is a much bigger issue.
“I think dress codes should reflect society and nowadays women can be smart and wear flat shoes. Apart from the debilitating factor, it’s the sexism issue. I think companies shouldn’t be forcing that on their female employees.” she added.
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PwC, however, stated that the particular dress code referenced in the media wasn’t an official policy of the company.
It responded in a statement: “PwC does not have specific dress guidelines for male or female employees, but we ask our people to exercise their own judgement around the business environment they’re operating in.”
Why are employers so obsessed about ensuring female workers wear high heels?
The answer is simple: It brings more profit.
In fact, it seems that, at least in the food and beverage industry, the higher the heels, the more attractive employees appear. Hence, the higher the tips.
A research by University of Portsmouth in 2013 revealed that men find women in heels more attractive. The conclusion came after a group of men watched videos of the same batch of women walking in heels and in flat shoes.
Participants judged the females in the heels as significantly more attractive than the females in the flat shoes.
Another French study also revealed that men are more willing to help women in heels.
The study found that men are more willing to help women in heels to fill in a survey and helped pick up things that women in heels have dropped.
While some may argue that a large number of women do enjoy wearing heels, it seems more sensible to allow them to make their own choice rather than putting it in the dress code.