Too hot to work

In “Keeping Women Down and Out”, Jeffreys focuses primarily on male business outings that alienates and subverts women in the workforce. While I doubt that reputable firms engage in the sort of extreme business entertainment Jeffreys describes, the underlying patriarchal culture is still very much present in male-dominant fields such as finance and consulting.

In 2010, Debrahlee Lorenzana, a curvy female employee, was dismissed from CitiBank for being “too hot” – under claims that her “properly tailored clothing” were “too distracting” for her male colleagues and supervisors to bear.

Stories like these raises a myriad of questions regarding the gender discrimination and oppression in the work place. If dismissal on the basis of gender is impermissible, how does one justify it on the basis of sexual appeal? Similarly, if employment can’t be decided on the basis of looks, how can one justify dismissal by the same criterion?

It is completely unjust the woman should be so severely penalized for the men’s libidos when she is clearly abiding by all the formalities of professionalism.  It seem ludicrous that instead of having the men adjust their behavior, work stations or even be penalized for their unprofessional thoughts and conduct, they were able to get the woman fired instead. Worst of all, they made it impossible for her to raise her case publicly since her contract with Citibank stipulated that all disputes must be settled in private.

Stories like these make it apparent that female employees are still very much at the will of their male superiors. In our discussion about gender equality in the work place, it seems that unless there are fundamental shifts in power and culture, cases like these, however rare and extreme, might continue to arise as a manifestation of gender inequality in the workforce.

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One Response to Too hot to work

  1. jocelynlc says:

    This article about Debrahlee Lorenzana is extremely disturbing to me. “Keeping Women Down and Out” does seem to highlight the “male bonding” that ultimately does decrease the success of women in the business world. However, Jeffreys neglects to discuss the psychological impact on women that this “bro” mentality causes. I am sure many of us can understand how difficult it is to work in a place dominated by males. Women are subjected to glass ceilings, but often the mental and emotional impact from being in such workplaces are brushed aside. The same lawyer who worked for Lorenzana also took a case for Lauren Odes, who was fired because of the size of her breasts earlier this year (http://articles.nydailynews.com/2012-05-21/news/31804304_1_debrahlee-lorenzana-queens-woman-dress). Though the economic impact of the male dominated workplace on women is certainly infuriating enough, I believe the psychological impact should also be examined. These women losing jobs because of their own natural bodies. It is one thing to prove we can do just as good of a job as men, but another when they are actually using our physical appearances to keep us “down and out.”

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