Should Uniforms be Gender Specific?

Thursday 27th September 2018

Should uniform be gender specific? A question that has sparked a heated debate in recent years. The push for a more gender neutral society challenges traditional uniform attire. For centuries males and females have been segregated by uniform both at school and in the workplace. In the early 1900’s this was due to the nature of the job roles that typically men and women performed. In a modern society, both men and women have integrated into jobs which they traditionally may not have considered. However, there is still a stigma around “gender roles”; therefore, gender specific uniform is still very much alive. Some industries have been slammed for being sexist within their uniform policy. British Airways air hostesses campaigned for two years in 2012 to allow female staff the option of wearing trousers. Original rules stated that female staff members must wear a skirt unless exempt on medical grounds. The air hostesses won the appeal and women were able to choose whether they wanted to wear a skirt or trousers. This was a small step in the transition to a more integrated uniform solution. The issue here was not that the air hostesses did not want to wear skirts, it was merely to have the option to choose between trousers or a skirt. There are probably many air hostesses who would never choose to wear the trousers, but being able to have the option can be liberating. However, it could be argued that such changes within the uniform conflicts traditions and the prestige of the airline company. Air hostesses have always dressed a certain way for centuries, so changing the uniform could have an effect on the company’s brand image. If one air hostess out of five wore trousers and the rest were wearing skirts would she not feel isolated rather than part of the team? Nonetheless, with a paradigm shift in opinion surrounding gender, it would be suggested that adjusting uniform to fit within this would only increase brand reputation rather than damage it.

As times have evolved, businesses have a choice to make; to create a unisex uniform that both male and female employees can wear, or to adopt a gender specific uniform. Therefore, the uniform industry must become more flexible in providing both gender neutral and gender specific apparel. Here at Creative Emporium we pride ourselves with our uniform solutions. We have various suppliers that offer both gender specific and gender neutral attire; therefore, we are able to cater for any type of business. For example, we provide safety shoes from a size 3 to a size 15 ensuring that any individual, female or male, can perform their role in the correct uniform. The gender debate could be argued for centuries to come; for some industries a gender specific uniform may suit, and for others a unisex option could be more fitting and cost effective. It may be more appropriate not to differentiate between male and female uniform, but to give employees the choice. Just like in the case of British Airways, giving employees a choice could be the solution to any company struggling to decide between a unisex or gender specific uniform. At UBC, the garments we offer come with a vast range of different options to cater for different gender requirements, contact us today to find out more.

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