Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dressing down at work

The Hindu, November 4, 2007



The crowd was utterly conformist. Row upon row of neatly turned out women, the majority of them in subdued colours, mostly wearing salwar kameez, a few wearing saris and even fewer in trousers. The meeting was be ing held in Technopark, the area marked out for the IT sector just outside the Kerala capital of Thiruvananthapuram. Here, fairly ugly and unimaginative six to seven storey buildings punctuate acres of greenery. But step inside one of them and you enter a different world.
On each floor, you find young men and women working intensely and quietly in front of individual computers or crowded around a table in glass-fronted room listening in to a conference call as they deal with the demands of clients sitting in another part of the world. The only way you know you’re in Kerala and not in Mumbai or Delhi is the way the women dress. Conformity is the norm. Rarely does a woman stick out as being different.

Why then have some IT companies introduced a dress code for their employees? The reasons given are that bright clothing, or plunging necklines in women, or short skirts, or tight tee shirts and jeans are a “distraction” — for the men, one presumes. So should the person who is “distracted” be told to concentrate, or should the person who is ostensibly responsible for the distraction be ticked off?

Women know that they don’t need to dress any particular way to be accused of “distracting” men. You only have to be a woman. You need not be a beauty queen. You can be dressed in the dowdiest of clothes. But as far as the average male is concerned, particularly in some parts of India, you are fair game for unwanted remarks, stares and touch.

(To read the rest of the article, click on the link)

1 comment:

Ritu said...

kalpana your articles are very thought provoking. i am a writer myself from New delhi and would like to report on women issues in the capital...Would love to get in touch with u, exchange views and take your guidance. my email is

love to hear from u

Ritu Ghai