[Ed. – Plus, sexist men are at fault when a company thinks linen shorts are wrong for the work place. Although come to think of it, a woman who wore linen shorts to work was probably at least not suffering from hypothermia. There’s a silver lining in every cloud.]
The workplace was originally oriented around men, and that remains largely true today even though women claim half of the workforce. Consider office temperatures, a subject of much discussion of late. The Washington Post’s Petula Dvorak detailed the plight of D.C. women in summer, “the time of year desperate women rely on cardigans, pashminas and space heaters to make it through the workweek in their frigid offices. And their male colleagues barely notice.” Less than two weeks later, The New York Times reported on a new study that found most office buildings rely on an old formula from the 1960s to determine the ideal temperature. The short of it: Thermostats are programmed around the needs of a 40-year-old man who weighs 154 pounds. …
At what length is a skirt considered short? What height must a heel reach to be crazy? How many necklaces before someone will tell you it’s too much? And who exactly decides? Sociologist Lisa Wade says for women deciding what to wear to work, “it’s about occupying and traveling within a certain space… usually between ‘proper’ and ‘flirty.’ Women have to constantly figure out where in that space they’re supposed to be… [W]omen constantly risk getting it wrong, or getting it wrong to someone.” They’re playing by rules drafted for men and only barely updated for them.
These issues may sound trivial when you consider how pregnant employees are discriminated against, and that only 12 percent of Americans get paid family leave when they have a baby. But air conditioning and dress codes, in their insidiousness, are also dangerous.