I want to talk about a photo.
A photo of feet.
Not just any feet, but working feet.
Specifically feet that seem, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear to me, to illustrate issues like the gender pay gap, workplace sex based inequality and so on.
I know you have seen the photo (or one very similar to it).
There are a couple of versions around, but they have something in common besides the headlines.
There will be several pairs of feet. The majority look to be male feet, suited and booted.
Then there will be some female feet. Always white. Always appearing to be a professional or office type worker. Always, and I mean always, wearing a skirt and with bare legs (or wearing some very womanly tights). Heels are obligatory.
I have several problems with these photographs.
First of all – why and when did gender/sex related articles became associated with feet?
There’s a suggestion contained within that the only people (women) who experience gender and sex based problems in the workplace are professional, white and looking like a particular version of femininity.
Do women of colour, women working in retail, care or domestic work not experience the same challenges at work? Do women who wear boots and don’t conform to the old style idea of how women at work should dress also not experience discrimination, harassment, a lack of equal pay, career marginalisation?
Can we please find a better image to explain the systemic, structural and serious issues of sex based inequality in the workplace?
Say no to feet.