Sexism at work Woman sent home for refusing to wear high heels

High heels. For men. Or women.

It has emerged today, that Nicola Thorp, temp worker and woman, was sent home from her job at PriceWaterhouseCoopers late last year for refusing to wear the apparently, regulation 2-4 inch heel.

PriceWaterhouseCoopers deny having any such policy, but the outsourcing agency through which Nicola was employed do have guidelines in place which require women to dress a certain way; a way which appears to have no relevance whatsoever on the ability of women to do their job. One wonders in what role high heels would serve Nicola better than the smart pair of flat shoes she asked permission to wear. A job where being 2-4 inches taller was essential, I suppose - a basketball player perhaps, or an extra in a Skee-Lo video, who knows. Hopefully Portico (Nicola's temp agency) do. 

In actual fact, Nicola was employed as a receptionist, and when asked if her male colleagues would also be required to step into a pair of heels to fulfil their roles, Nicola was sent home without pay.

Simon Pratt, the managing director of Portico and a man, said in light of the burgeoning controversy that the guidelines would "be reviewed". So, I thought Simon and his team might be interested to know that high heels in fact were first designed for and worn by men. MEN! Who'd have thought it. They weren't even designed for walking in... 

Heels were first worn in Persia (modern day Iran) by horsemen, the heels gave the riders extra purchase on the stirrup and thus afforded them better balance and an improved stance when standing to aim and shoot their bow and arrow. After all things Persian swept Western Europe in the 16th century, all the men of the aristocracy wanted a pair of heels - at the time they were thought to be a bold expression of masculinity. Eventually, the fashion for heels caught on with the wider population, and so to differentiate themselves from the masses the aristocracy dramatically increased the height of their shoes - and the high heel was born. Some say this is where the phrase 'well-heeled' came from, a good heel signifying a well-off individual.

In this scenario, the heel seems to have done more harm than good. Nicola has started a petition online which asks the government to make it illegal to require women to wear heels at work. It currently stands at almost 40,000 signatures, so let's sign up and kick this outdated and sexist ruling into heels or otherwise.

Sign Nicola's petition here.

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