Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Quick hit: Sensible shoes a safety issue?

Greg Cain writes about the health and safety implications of high heels at work in the Herald:
There is a heated debate going on in the UK about, of all things, whether women should have the right to wear comfortable shoes in the workplace.

According to this report by Reuters, the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists passed a motion asking employers to work in partnership with trade unions, staff, and local Health and Safety representatives to ensure that proper risk assessments are carried out, and where high heels are deemed a health risk, replaced with comfortable shoes.

... The issue was purely about giving women in certain industries the right to say no to high heels in jobs where they are on their feet for a long time. Feet bear the brunt of daily life, and for many workers, prolonged standing, badly fitted footwear and high heels can be a hazard in the workplace, the Society said. It pointed out that wearing high heels can cause long term foot problems, such as serious foot, knee and back pain, and damaged joints.

The Times reported that Conservative Member of Parliament Nadine Dorries tore into the motion, saying it was intended to cut women like her down to size.

"My job is male-dominated, and the men I work with have killer instincts," the newspaper reported her as saying. "I am 5ft 3in and need to wear high heels," she said...
Click through for the whole thing, and a link to the report mentioned.

Quite interesting how the UK media, and the politician quoted above, have leapt to the conclusion that suggestions that women be given choices about whether or not they have to wear high heels in the workplace is somehow actually restricting their choices...


Anonymous said...

"My job is male-dominated, and the men I work with have killer instincts," the newspaper reported her as saying. "I am 5ft 3in and need to wear high heels,"

If that is the case then what do shoes have to do with anything? It's not like you stare at peoples feet when working..

Anonymous said...

No they don't look at your feet. But they do pat you on the head. I'm 5ft 1.5in so I am constantly considered cute/wee/adorable. I make that work for me but I'm pretty sure thats not how I'd want people to view me if I was a politician.

A lot of women feel/display a certain amount of sexual confidence/power when they wear clothing items like high heels. I know I do. She obviously feels that she needs that extra whammy in order to compete in such a male dominated and aggressive arena. I totally get why she wants/needs to wear her high heels.

On the other hand I have plenty of friends who work in the corporate sector who bitch about the fact that they have to wear heels all day and go to work all dolled up in makeup.

Its an issue about choice. Even if they pass legislation saying that women can't be forced to wear heels for work they'll have to anyway. Well, if they want that promotion they will. Unless of course they're fat or ugly. In that case they wouldn't have got the promotion anyway.

If the workplaces that we are discussing had decent management we wouldn't be having this discussion.

The ex-expat said...

I'm 5'10" so I have the reverse problem, small man syndrome. I actually tend to avoid wearing high heels because otherwise I tower over males in them.

Azlemed said...

i dont wear heels very often cos I stuffed my ankle a couple of years ago so just avoid them, and I am only 5ft 5. if men dont respect you wearing heels isnt going to change that.....

KimV said...

The quote from Nadine Dorries, MP is a fair indication of her usual standard. That said, being 5'4", I can sympathise with women wanting the extra height to feel less vulnerable to pats on the head.

The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists make excellent points, including that this potentially damaging footwear is never compulsory for men. I hope they win the day eventually.

Anonymous said...

I am 5 ft 6 and I almost never wear heels, I hate them, particularly stilletoes (I am clumsy).

Stilletto heels seem silly, constricting, ridiculous and 'overly feminine' to me. I want to be comfortable and secure in what I wear, and I want my shoes to be good for my feet.

I think having a choice to wear heels or not would be fantastic. Women should certaintly have the choice whether to wear heels or not (or at least, whether to wear high heels, or stilleto heels). I would not consider working in a job that required me to wear shoes I was uncomfortable in and felt awkward in.

I would like to be able to run and move totally comfortably/freely without getting sore feet or worrying about my balance (or about whether the surface of the ground I am walking on is compatable with narrow heels).

Violet said...

Wearing heels doesn't necessarily make a difference at work. I'm 5'0", so even in the most ridiculously towering heels I'd still be wee.