CMV: A dress code allowing women to wear dresses, skirts, etc but mandates men must wear khaki dress pants is discrimination. (self.changemyview)

changemyview

320 ups - 132 downs = 188 votes

I work IT at a university. The females in my workplace can wear whatever they want as long as it looks professional. This could be a pantsuit or it could be a sun dress, a skirt, or any other form of dress.

As a male, I have to wear khaki dress pants. Doesn't matter if it's 100° outside and I have to haul equipment up three of four flights of stairs, all pants, all the time.

It seems discriminatory to me that I can't wear shorts when it's hot, or that I can't wear jeans when I spend half my time crawling under people's desks. Why is it okay for women to wear whatever they want (within reason) while I am restricted to khakis and a collared shirt?

Edit: Big thanks to the one or two of you who decided to use the down vote button as a disagree button. Super productive and definitely helping me to change my view.

Edit 2: Went to bed and this blew up a little bit. Let me clarify some things...

  • all 250 people in my building are not techs. Four of us are and we are all male.

  • the official dress code for everyone is business casual. In practice though, for men it's khakis and a polo. Ask any of the bosses how a male should interpret it, and you will be told khakis and a polo. Ask one how a female should interpret it and you will find she has many, many more options.

  • on several other parts of campus, there really is no dress code. Many departments and divisions stopped having one in recent years and employees overall seem happier and more productive (surveys have been done to this effect), yet my department in particular still believes you have to dress a certain way to be good at your job.

  • finally, some of you have pointed out that it's society, not my place of work, that makes the dress code sexist and/or discriminatory. It doesn't matter what makes it discriminatory, what matters is that my workplace is enforcing it.

I'm going to try to keep up, but it's early morning and I'm recovering from a marrow transplant yesterday and am going home today. Just wanted to thank everybody for a really great conversation, even if it has not changed my view. It has impacted my perspective in that I don't think my workplace is intentionally being sexist, but I do still believe the policy being enforced is, by it's nature, sexist. In light of that, I believe the dress code should either be tightened for both sexes equally or eliminated entirely.

Thanks again, everybody.

146 comments submitted at 03:37:26 on May 3, 2014 by Garm_Bel_Iblis

  • [-]
  • Garm_Bel_Iblis
  • -5 Points
  • 04:02:10, 3 May

You raise a really good point, and I will say I like never having to really think about what I wear to work. On the other hand, dress pants in the summer suck. I mean just from a utility perspective, slacks aren't exactly the best option for someone in my profession.

Also, and this is probably a big part of this, I hate khakis. Hate them. They are not the kind of thing I would normally wear and are not representative of who I am. Women can express themselves through the way they dress at work, while men aren't really allowed to do that. I'm a jeans and band t-shirt kind of guy. Outside of work, I wouldn't be caught dead in khakis and a polo. It seems like women wear things to work similar to what they wear any time they might go out in public. So blessing or not (and it very well may be), I still see it as discrimination: men must do this, women are free to do whatever.

  • [-]
  • PepperoniFire
  • 15 Points
  • 04:20:20, 3 May

Sounds more like you dislike not being able to wear what you're inclined to wear when not working. I don't really like heels or go out in skirt suits but I wear them anyway because it's expected and I'm representing another person. Part of my job entails looking a certain way, and this is true of most jobs. A more liberal dress code might increase the probability of overlap between what one wears at work and what one wears out (especially if you're expected to be gussied up when out), but ask yourself this: if your dress code were to become more liberal -- say, it allows you to wear shorts in the summer or jeans on heavy lifting days -- do you really think it would be expanded to jeans and band t-shirts? Would that still be too discriminatory?

EDIT: Forgot to add, are women 'free to do whatever' because your OP suggests they still have limitations. Even if you were only told to 'dress professionally' at your discretion, it likely wouldn't include jeans and t-shirts.

  • [-]
  • Garm_Bel_Iblis
  • -10 Points
  • 05:33:43, 3 May

I'm not asking to wear jeans and t-shirts. Though, for the sake of argument, what would that hurt? What part of my skill set would go away because my pants are made of denim? How would a shirt that says "blink-182" on it prevent me from pushing out policy or fixing a printer? I don't interact with customers (students), the only thing I represent is the IT department to other employees in my building.

  • [-]
  • PepperoniFire
  • 11 Points
  • 05:38:22, 3 May

>I'm not asking to wear jeans and t-shirts.

Then what about this part?

>Also, and this is probably a big part of this, I hate khakis. Hate them. They are not the kind of thing I would normally wear and are not representative of who I am. Women can express themselves through the way they dress at work, while men aren't really allowed to do that.

The parameters listed here are (a) what you like to wear, and; (b) being able to express yourself. If that's defined by 'jeans and a t-shirt,' we're going to have a problem because, by any definition of professionalism, male or female, you don't wear jeans and a t-shirt, no matter how much is quashes your individuality.

Even if we liberalized your dress code to a similar spectrum of a discretionary "dress professionally," (i.e., applying the same standards to men) you will not be wearing jeans or shorts, and that's a constant in both men's and women's professional attire. In fact, it would probably boil down to, at its most basic, dress slacks and a collared shirt even without the company's explicit insistence. You could mix it up a bit with sweaters, vests, ties, accessories, etc but you can probably do that now already.

>Though, for the sake of argument, what would that hurt?

I'm actually not going to argue that because your OP presents a question of two different dress codes, not the efficacy of dress codes, period. "I think dress codes should go away because they do not affect your work" is a different argument from "I think different dress codes for men and women is discriminatory."

  • [-]
  • Garm_Bel_Iblis
  • -10 Points
  • 05:47:52, 3 May

The point is females are allowed to be much closer then males are to wearing what they are comfortable in and what they enjoy wearing. Outside of "don't look like you're going to Walmart or the club", there really isn't much of a dress code for them. The other side of the spectrum is where males are found and, by the very definition of the word, it is discrimination. Women are allowed to do something, men are prohibited from it.

  • [-]
  • PepperoniFire
  • 15 Points
  • 05:50:53, 3 May

> Outside of "don't look like you're going to Walmart or the club", there really isn't much of a dress code for them.

I'm going to stop you right there and ask if this is really the dress code or if that is your interpretation of the dress code. I haven't worked in IT but I have worked in offices since I was 18 with dress codes ranging from business casual to business formal. While there are not the same super specific codes (as I said before), the range is not so wide that your sole goal it to avoid looking too sexy or too trashy, and I think you're taking for granted the considerations that have to go into looking professional for women, especially without that guidance. This is starting to sound very much like a 'grass is greener' situation.

And how are they allowed to be 'much closer' to their clothing preference? What if they like to wear jeans and tees too? As I said, the basic demand to 'dress professionally' constrains both sexes on that front similarly, and you can't take for granted that the girls you work with simply like to dress the way they do at work.

I think a better request would be a reformed dress code that takes into consideration what work you actually do (if it involves physical labor or not, etc) before demanding someone dress a certain way.

  • [-]
  • Garm_Bel_Iblis
  • -7 Points
  • 06:05:37, 3 May

"Business casual", itself, has a much wider interpretation for women than it does for men. But where I have worked (offices for the last decade or so), for women it can mean: skirts, dresses, suits, capris, dress slacks (all of these in any variety of colors, I might add)... The only thing I have ever seen a female sent home for was a short skirt. A short skirt as in a "why the fuck would you even consider that work-appropriate" kind of skirt. It was stupid. If, on the other hand, I wear a nice pair of Express jeans... I need to go change or we need to "have a little chat" about policy.

  • [-]
  • AltoidPounder
  • 13 Points
  • 11:16:58, 3 May

Jeans are not "business casual" for men OR women. A woman would get the same "little chat" for wearing a nice pair of Express jeans.

  • [-]
  • BullsLawDan
  • 11 Points
  • 11:35:24, 3 May

>"Business casual", itself, has a much wider interpretation for women than it does for men.

Only to the extent that ALL clothing has a wider interpretation for women.

What you need is an appointment with a style consultant, and a good one. There are millions of ways to dress business casual (a dress code I very much dislike) other than khakis.

  • [-]
  • Minnie_the_Pooh
  • 3 Points
  • 14:09:34, 3 May

Capris are not business casual. If women are wearing these to work in a business casual environment that you must wear dress pants, I would consider that to be unfair. Cropped dress pants could be acceptable; however I still wouldn't wear them for business casual personally.

>(all of these in any variety of colors, I might add)

You can find men's dress pants in quite a variety of colors as well if you look. These come in light & dark khaki & grey. These come in shades of khaki & black. How about navy? These in olive, blue & red. Even linen or twill to keep you cool.

There are also a variety of long & short sleeve shirts in a variety of colors that can keep you cool & comfortable.

So now you have plenty of options for color & style (although maybe not as much as women) while keeping cool & comfortable.

  • [-]
  • Garm_Bel_Iblis
  • -3 Points
  • 14:13:29, 3 May

Yeah, all of those that are not khaki? That'll be a "conversation". And the shirts have to be one of two things: polos or button-up. Both must be collared.

Part of my point is I have to try a lot harder to fit my employer's policy than the females that work here. I don't believe that's fair.

  • [-]
  • Minnie_the_Pooh
  • 3 Points
  • 14:18:28, 3 May

If women are allowed to wear colored, not muted, clothing, then is would certainly be unfair to not allow you those colored option dress pants that are most definitely business casual. If that is the case in your workplace, then I would agree with you that it is discriminatory.

You may want to make it more clear in your OP that shades of khaki is what is required, because to me that puts it to another level as opposed to just requiring dress pants/chinos.

  • [-]
  • illuman23
  • 2 Points
  • 16:40:03, 3 May

Time to have that conversation then. Business Casual is more than "Khakis and polos". As long as it is some form of slacks ( any color and non denim fabric), and a collered shirt it should be ok. Have you tried golf polos? They are much cooler than standard cotton. While you are at it Under Armor and others have Khakis that will be much better than your standard cotton / Dockers brand. It sounds like you are complaining, and not exploring your fashion options at work. Mens clothes can be more than just jeans, shorts, and whatever you currently have in your closet.

  • [-]
  • Howardzend
  • 2 Points
  • 21:16:18, 3 May

Just out of curiosity, what other types of men's shirts are there besides polo and button up? All I can think of is t-shirts.

As a woman who hates dresses and skirts (and all the shoes and stuff that go along with them), the idea of being able to wear khakis and polo shirts to work sounds awesome. But, while that might work for men, I have been told outright that that wouldn't work for me as a woman. I would need to wear dress slacks, which automatically means wearing a dressier blouse. It also means my shoes would need to be dressier and less comfortable. I realize you think that women have a lot more options, but really we are just as pigeon-holed as men are with this stuff. And not all of us enjoy our options either.

  • [-]
  • ghostofmybrain
  • 3 Points
  • 18:23:29, 3 May

I think you're vastly overestimating how comfortable women's dress clothing is. If it's anywhere near being cool enough on a hot day, it's also probably very near being much too revealing and you literally can't move at all while wearing it or you'll no longer be professional because somebody caught a glimpse of your bra strap or your thigh. If a woman wears clothing that would be considered slightly less professional, she almost always has to balance it out with extra jewelry, some accessories, or a ridiculously hard-to-create hair style, all of which are incredibly inconvenient, uncomfortable, and limit movement.

  • [-]
  • AnneNeville
  • 3 Points
  • 21:45:51, 3 May

I consider women's professional clothing to be fairly uncomfortable, actually, and not at all what I'd want to wear if I had a choice . . .

  • [-]
  • pppppatrick
  • 5 Points
  • 05:54:35, 3 May

> The other side of the spectrum is where males are found and, by the very definition of the word, it is discrimination.

They could have very well worded their dress code as "dress up in something that won't make us look bad" then tell you to go back and change when you don't wear khakis.

If they did it that way would it make you feel less discriminated against?

  • [-]
  • Garm_Bel_Iblis
  • -7 Points
  • 05:59:21, 3 May

It would depend on if the standard was held equally to men and women. If I'm getting sent home for not wearing khaki pants, but the females are wearing dresses and skirts, not happy.

  • [-]
  • pppppatrick
  • 8 Points
  • 06:06:52, 3 May

> If I'm getting sent home for not wearing khaki pants, but the females are wearing dresses and skirts, not happy.

So you're the one setting the standards?

  • [-]
  • Garm_Bel_Iblis
  • -7 Points
  • 06:11:51, 3 May

No, I am saying the standard is not equal. It is not gender-blind. You asked if I would be happy if the policy changed. I answered that I would be happy with that if it was equally enforced.

  • [-]
  • pppppatrick
  • 3 Points
  • 06:15:38, 3 May

Are the women allowed to wear the jeans and t shirts you said you're not allowed to wear?

  • [-]
  • BullsLawDan
  • 3 Points
  • 11:36:17, 3 May

The standard is equal. Business casual for both genders.