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Over 60% of women face enforcement of wearing heels at work, study finds

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Repugnant. Shoes have no connection with ability.

If heels somehow increase ability to do your job, men should also be required to wear them. We do, afterall, want everyone to be functioning to the best of their abilities.

2 ( +26 / -24 )

How about this, women just don't wear heels if you don't want to. I do not believe a company will risk the bad publicity in a power harassment / sexual/gender discrimination suit. It's time for women to stand up and fight these stupid oyaji rules.

-14 ( +16 / -30 )

Women need to go on strike and all wear crocs to work in protest.

0 ( +20 / -20 )

Well, the same should apply to the men.

There is a bit of a double edged sword in this. After many years of being told what I have to wear teaching in private high schools the same rules are not applied to the female teachers. I worked at one school that demanded make teachers wear a black suit and tie all year and that teachers must wear their coats in the classroom. This was despite the thermostats being set at 28’ during the summer. However, on the other hand, the female teachers could pretty much wear whatever they liked. Some of them dressed as if they wear going to a beach party.

This ruling of women having to wear high heel shoes is just another bullying and intimidation rule in Japanese business culture.

-1 ( +14 / -15 )

As others have said, use collective action to force management into meeting your demands. It's always seemed ironic that a country based around the group, as opposed to the Western individual, is so averse to working for the betterment of all.

-4 ( +14 / -18 )

What a wonderful era to live in! The economic and material wealth is so great that people actually reject looking good!

A woman that looks more attractive does better in life. Same with men. Which is why most men shave.

What is next? No make up? I would hire the woman who puts effort into her appearance over those who do not. Reminds me of that classic rock song "American Woman".

-5 ( +21 / -26 )

So just wear regular shoes and force your employer to take punitive action. Then retaliate with your union or with the Labor Board. It's not rocket science. Why don't the women get this?

-22 ( +8 / -30 )

Well Bugle Boy, most women probably like looking good.

-11 ( +3 / -14 )

umberllaman, My daughters are beautiful and intelligent with and without heels, with and without make up. AND I would hire anyone who puts an effort into their job and knows how to dress appropriately for the specific job they are assigned to. And appropriately does not mean make up and heels. Us guys seem to be doing perfectly well without either one.

3 ( +21 / -18 )

Since 1981,

SO is my daughter. But there is a time and place. Can you not figure that out? This article is saying ALL WOMEN are victims! I think that is total NONSENSE! Women are not helplessly trapped into some etherical societal monster. Listen, you do not like the job that requires heels, need not apply! That simple! Problem fixed! There is more than enough jobs to go around in Japan!

-5 ( +16 / -21 )

I would hire the woman who puts effort into her appearance over those who do not.

Despite personality, competence, experience, glowing recommendations or education? Judging by your comment, probably so. However, if you were hiring men, no doubt those attributes would be more valued and you'd be more prepared to disregard less attractive or shabbily dressed candidates.

-3 ( +14 / -17 )

Forcing anything other for example "black tidy shoes" across all staff is just wrong.

As someone else said high heels or not don't effect your ability to do your job, want to wear them, cool if not.. not problem.

Women's value being based on her clothes makeup shoes how many kids she pops out.. why is everyone so keen on controlling women and treating them less than?

1 ( +15 / -14 )

jcapan

great personality, competence, experience, glowing recommendations and education usually go hand in hand with effort in over all life, including appearance. Anymore genius revelations?

1 ( +12 / -11 )

"great personality, competence, experience, glowing recommendations and education usually go hand in hand with effort in over all life" + high heels. bingo.

0 ( +9 / -9 )

Never thought I'd get so many down votes for supporting women!

0 ( +9 / -9 )

BugleBoy

You are not supporting women. You are supporting the ideology that all women are victims. If you are a woman, do not like heels, do not take the job. Plenty of jobs in factories, labs, hospitals, etc., that do not require heels.

-15 ( +4 / -19 )

BugleBoy

You are not supporting women. You are supporting the ideology that all women are victims. If you are a woman, do not like heels, do not take the job. Plenty of jobs in factories, labs, hospitals, etc., that do not require heels.

Actually I AM supporting women. I'm suggesting they stand up for their rights as they believe them to be. If forcing women to wear high heels is illegal, then the labor board will side with the women and the women will prevail against their employer.

But the women need to take action to make it work. Not just complain.

4 ( +10 / -6 )

Oh the fake moral outrage “woman aren’t victims” free market blah blah blah.

”he shouts loudly from his privileged almost more certainly more highly paid for same work position”

Not everyone is in a position to start a work revolution... they have to take any job they can get especially when young women especially those who have decided to work as well as be a mother are illegally asked about are you planning to have kids are you going to take more time off.

Ok well give you the job but you have to wear these gender specific shoes.... WTAF!

.... some people live in a dream world so blinkered to their tiny slice of the world..

very sad, I hope you treat your daughters, wives and female employees with much more respect and regard than most are showing here, and in general care and concern over other people’s welfare than the all might dollar or yen in this case.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

I am too shocked about what's happening in this comment section to comment about the article....

8 ( +10 / -2 )

umbrellamanToday 08:03 am JST

What a wonderful era to live in! The economic and material wealth is so great that people actually reject looking good!

People aren't rejecting looking good. They are rejecting being forced to wear uncomfortable shoes that ultimately cause medical issues, such as nerve damage, back pain, and bad knees.

A woman that looks more attractive does better in life. Same with men. Which is why most men shave.

You seem to be confusing appearance with competence.

What is next? No make up? I would hire the woman who puts effort into her appearance over those who do not. Reminds me of that classic rock song "American Woman".

Again, you seem to be confusing appearance with competence. Women don't need to wear makeup, high heels, or be goodlooking in order to excel in the workplace.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

Ok well give you the job but you have to wear these gender specific shoes.... WTAF!

Ok well give you the job but you have to wear this gender specific suit and tie.... WTAF!

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

Bugle Boy of Company BToday 09:31 am JST

Actually I AM supporting women. I'm suggesting they stand up for their rights as they believe them to be. If forcing women to wear high heels is illegal, then the labor board will side with the women and the women will prevail against their employer.

But the women need to take action to make it work. Not just complain.

It is so typical of men to tell women how to behave. Likewise it is typical for men to consider "women's issues" outside of their responsibilities, and behave as if it has nothing to do with them. With this message, you are contributing to the exact kind of sexism in the workplace that has brought us to this point.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I am too shocked about what's happening in this comment section to comment about the article....

Not sure about the comments. Only one guy sounds like a misogynist dinosaur. But the downvotes are lit. A lot of lurkers apparently.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

that's nothing, when I first started working in Japan in 1992 women had to wear uniforms, serve tea and cut their hair a certain way while men had no rules.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Yes but because it’s “better than before” doesn’t mean we should stop progress.

Japan has a major labor shortage which will only get worse as the population ages. Women returning to the workforce and being supported and comfortable, mentally and physically is crucial to all of us and not just as tea ladies but leaders of business..

If they choose to wear a certain type of shoe cool but government support of forcing people to wear a specific shoe which has many many issues, not just physical but the effect the separation of duties and roles to me is plainly wrong.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It is so typical of men to tell women how to behave. Likewise it is typical for men to consider "women's issues" outside of their responsibilities, and behave as if it has nothing to do with them. With this message, you are contributing to the exact kind of sexism in the workplace that has brought us to this point.

Pathetic. You complain. Someone makes a suggestion on how to resolve the problem. Then you complain that a man made the suggestion. You don't want solutions. You just want to complain.

It certainly IS outside MY responsibility. But it's definitely yours - if you feel it is. So do something instead of just complaining!

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

If you are a woman, do not like heels, do not take the job. Plenty of jobs in factories, labs, hospitals, etc., that do not require heels.

No jobs 'require' heels. By your logic women should also be forced to wear g strings at work (no visible panty line, looks better / more 'professional' I guess?).

4 ( +7 / -3 )

umbrellaman,

Wake up! It's the 21st century. How about joining us. Do you really need women to wear heels and make up to do a job?? Really??

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Why is JT making such a big deal with this issue this past week? Why isn't the same fuss being made about men needing to wear ties?

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

Raw BeerToday 11:24 am JST

Why is JT making such a big deal with this issue this past week? Why isn't the same fuss being made about men needing to wear ties?

Heels are the source of physiological damages...

5 ( +7 / -2 )

All these men telling women how they should look and to put up and shut up.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

OLs look great in heels.

No doubt about it.

However, one should not compel them by law

to damage their feet in the long-term

to appeal to the MALE GAZE

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I have a feeling none of this women give a damn. Man have to go through dress codes as well. No matter how uncomfortable it feels, you have to look good on the job. And if those are the hills you people are talking about on the picture, women won't mind using those for work. My mom uses them, my sister uses them. I don't get what the hell is the problem with making women use high hills as dress code. Its just cloathing.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

ah yes, the necktie, the damager of....Adams apples? yes, wearing a necktie definitely causes as much pain, injury, and all round discomfort as heels do. gimme a break.

(I wore a tie for 7 years of schooling, before anyone tries to tell me how uncomfortable it is. I am well aware. Still doesn't compare to the pain of heels after 8 hours.)

we should all do like schools in Japan do and wear sneakers with suits.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Bugle Boy of Company BToday 10:17 am JST

Pathetic. You complain. Someone makes a suggestion on how to resolve the problem. Then you complain that a man made the suggestion. You don't want solutions. You just want to complain.

I did not "complain that a man made the suggestion". That is a hyperbolic simplification. My point is that it is typical for men to feel justified in trying to tell women how to behave even though they have no experience or understanding of the situation. More to the point, you are wrong for trying to tell Japanese women how to navigate their own culture.

The content of your suggestion was both poor and misguided. It showed clearly that you don't know how Japanese women approach feminism, and you don't understand how activism works in Japan. Feminist approaches to activism are culture specific. What works in the US or UK or India or any other country won't necessarily work in Japan. Specifically, confrontation doesn't work in Japan, and any woman who simply told her boss "no I won't wear high heels" would face disciplinary measures and that approach would not garner sympathy or support among her colleagues, including other women. That is just not how it works here.

You also are mistaken if you think the Labor Standards Bureau would be able to help a woman who was fired for refusing to wear high heels. Currently, there are no laws against companies requiring a dress code, which means companies are within their right to fire an employee for not obeying it.

The law has to be changed from the top down, which not only is practical in terms of the power structure, but also culturally appropriate in terms of Japan, where strict hierarchies are maintained. That is why these women went to the Labor Minister - he is the top dog, so to speak, and has the power and authority to influence company policy nationwide - a top-down approach to problem solving.

So you see, Bugle Boy, these women are not "just complaining" - they are taking action in the most appropriate way for this culture and this context. That this has been in the news for three straight weeks is evidence that their approach is valid.

It certainly IS outside MY responsibility. But it's definitely yours - if you feel it is. So do something instead of just complaining!

You felt justified to criticize these women's approach even though you don't understand feminism in Japan, approaches to activism in Japan, or Japanese business culture. As that is the case, your only job here is to listen, ask questions, and learn - not make blanket statements and then try to defend your ignorance with even more ignorance.

That you automatically assumed you know better than the women do and were derogatory of their approach reeks of misogyny. So yes, as a sexist man, it is absolutely your responsibility to do some inward introspection and think how you can stop contributing to sexism as a whole. I suggest beginning now.

8 ( +12 / -4 )

@Bugle Boy of Company B - So just wear regular shoes and force your employer to take punitive action. Then retaliate with your union or with the Labor Board. It's not rocket science. Why don't the women get this?

Union? Retaliate? Labor Board? Don’t know much about Japanese business culture, do you? Unions in Japan liaise from the management to the employee, not the other way around. The Labor Board are the ones who support this daft cultural rule. And, the only retaliation will be from the employer firing the troublemaker employee.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Most women doesn't have attractive feet and heels hide it, makes it classy. And when they takes out, it's quite stinky or smelly.

-10 ( +2 / -12 )

High heels have nothing to do whatsoever with competence and professional performance. They are just a pain in the leg which affects motivation.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The fuss still going on about this? How peaceful Japan is

....by a Hong Konger

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

I don't get what the hell is the problem with making women use high hills as dress code. Its just cloathing.

you haven't been reading, many women suffer from wearing them, especially women who have to walf al;ot for their jobs. anybody thinks that forcing women to wear a piece of clothing that causes her pain is just plain selfish and chauvinistic, why cant women wear similar shoes without the heels

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Most women doesn't have attractive feet and heels hide it, makes it classy. And when they takes out, it's quite stinky or smelly.

....sounds like there is still support for the now banned practice of Chinese foot binding.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Cut the crap. Those are pumps in the photo.

Over 60% of Japanese companies announce what to wear for interview in advance?

Go to such companies wearing whatever you like and you don't have to walk nor work wearing pumps for interview, just a matter of minutes when facing interviewers.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

I'm a man and not well versed in these matters, but this story and the previous ku-tsu story last week were both illustrated with photos of Japanese women wearing heels of around 5cm in height. Excuse my ignorance, but are shoes of that height "high heels" and are they inherently bad for your feet? I always associated the expression "high heels" with something much more extreme and much more likely to be painful. The shoes in the photos are the same as those worn in those ballroom dancing shows on tv.

If 5cm heels are indeed problematic, then of course, women should not be forced to wear them. fwiw, poorly selected or badly fitting men's formal shoes can also be very uncomfortable.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

@girl_in_tokyo

Amazing comment, I couldn't have put it any better. Besides, you can look competent and appropriate without either make-up or high heels.

The sample size in this survey is very small, but if the numbers are indicative of the labor-market, it also explains why you can't just find a job that doesn't want you to wear heels, since it's apparently the case for more than half. It's not that easy to just get it your way.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I'm aware how corporate Japan works. Avoiding confrontation because it's not what Japanese do is no excuse for not taking direct action.

Someone always has to sacrifice to make any real changes. So some women will lose their jobs. That sucks. But they're not going to make any real advances without a few falling victim to the system.

I doubt any laws will be passed to make it illegal to force women to wear a certain type of shoe at work.

Until you get the vast majority of women to agree to not wear heels, you will always risk losing your job when trying to avoid having to wear heels - because they'll hire a younger, prettier, more willing girl to replace you.

If the job description does not say you will be exposed to danger, why do women put up with it? As someone pointed out, wearing heels is physiologically damaging. If you want to succeed, get that to be included as "dangerous work" and at least you will be able to argue for hazard pay. Employers will quickly decide that heels are not nearly as attractive as loafers and you will see company dress codes change accordingly. (As a side effect, they will not have to pay hazard pay.)

Anyway, if the job description clearly states you have to wear heels, don't take the job.

If the job description does not state that you have to wear heels, don't wear heels, then sue if/when you are fired or discriminated against. If you're more worried about peer / social pressure, or about not disturbing the "wa", then maybe you should just wear the heels.

Personally, I think 95% of women wear heels terribly. We'd all be better off if they didn't.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

No one is saying you have to wear makeup to be competent at one’s job. The Japanese think that wearing makeup and suits and heels is being polite rather than anything having to do with ability. And you know the Japanese is keen on being polite and the desired image to be convey.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Bugle Boy of Company BJune 12 11:33 pm JST

I'm aware how corporate Japan works. Avoiding confrontation because it's not what Japanese do is no excuse for not taking direct action.

So.... the fact that confrontation doesn't work in Japan and actually makes people LESS sympathetic to your cause is "no excuse". Okay then.

Someone always has to sacrifice to make any real changes. So some women will lose their jobs. That sucks. But they're not going to make any real advances without a few falling victim to the system.

This type of stunt won't work because being openly rebellious and confrontational doesn't work in Japan. But you think they should do it anyway, losing their jobs their jobs process, while not actually changing anything. Well, okay then.

I doubt any laws will be passed to make it illegal to force women to wear a certain type of shoe at work.

That's because no one is trying to pass laws to make it illegal to force women to wear a certain type of shoe to work. They are trying to influence top companies to change their dress codes voluntarily because, as I have said a number of times now, direct confrontation and legal battles against companies aren't effective modes of activism in Japan.

Until you get the vast majority of women to agree to not wear heels, you will always risk losing your job when trying to avoid having to wear heels - because they'll hire a younger, prettier, more willing girl to replace you.

No one wants to get the vast majority of women to agree not to wear heels. We want women to be free to wear whatever shoes they like.

If the job description does not say you will be exposed to danger, why do women put up with it? As someone pointed out, wearing heels is physiologically damaging. If you want to succeed, get that to be included as "dangerous work" and at least you will be able to argue for hazard pay. Employers will quickly decide that heels are not nearly as attractive as loafers and you will see company dress codes change accordingly. (As a side effect, they will not have to pay hazard pay.)

They aren't putting up with it. I'm not sure why you don't understand that, when we are discussing an article that details exactly how women are not putting up with it and are engaging in activism on a pretty grand scale.

Anyway, if the job description clearly states you have to wear heels, don't take the job.

You think women should turn down jobs that they need to make a living in a country where women are often discriminated against in employment, if the dress code says they have to wear high heels. In other words, instead of trying to change things through public awareness and lobbying companies to change their dress codes, women should just not work or quit their jobs - aka, be willing to impoverish themselves to make a point.

Well, okay then.

If the job description does not state that you have to wear heels, don't wear heels, then sue if/when you are fired or discriminated against. If you're more worried about peer / social pressure, or about not disturbing the "wa", then maybe you should just wear the heels.

You want people to sue their company for having a dress code that incldues high heels even though having a dress code that includes high heels isn't illegal. And you think suing, which is about as directly confrontational as one can possibly be, will actually WORK. In JAPAN. Where confronation doesn't garner sympathy to their cause and may even turn people against you.

Well, okay then.

Personally, I think 95% of women wear heels terribly. We'd all be better off if they didn't.

I'll be sure to pass on your personal opinion to all the women I know. I'm sure they will be eternally greatful to hear what you think, and will slavishly follow your advice just to please you.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'll be sure to pass on your personal opinion to all the women I know. I'm sure they will be eternally greatful to hear what you think, and will slavishly follow your advice just to please you.

Good girl.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

NZ2011

Forcing anything other for example "black tidy shoes" across all staff is just wrong.

As someone else said high heels or not don't effect your ability to do your job, want to wear them, cool if not.. not problem.

Women's value being based on her clothes makeup shoes how many kids she pops out.. why is everyone so keen on controlling women and treating them less than?

Some people can't afford suits and tie especially the newly grads. Do you think it's also wrong to require applicants to wear suits and tie? Do you think every men  should also have the right to decline wearing leather shoes and business suits because they cant afford them or they dont feel comfortable wearing them?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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