SCMP Friday, May 18, 2001

Schools urged to lift ban on women in trousers


The Equal Opportunities Commission yesterday called on school managements to allow female teachers and students to wear trousers after a survey found that 84 per cent of schools banned girls from wearing them.
According to the survey, carried out in February, 29 per cent of teachers from 744 primary and secondary schools said their schools had discriminatory dress codes prohibiting female teachers from wearing trousers to school except in cold weather.
These dress codes are also applicable to schoolgirls in 84 per cent of schools. Students in those schools are usually only allowed to wear trousers when the temperature falls below 10 or 12 degrees Celsius. Ninety-four per cent of respondents said they opposed dress codes for female teachers.
The survey was carried out by the commission and the Professional Teachers' Union. Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, a requirement on clothing that only applies to female staff may amount to sex discrimination.
Josiah Chok Kin-ming, a senior equal opportunities officer, said: "We hope school management can let female teachers and schoolgirls decide whether to wear trousers according to their own needs." He urged school managements to foster equal opportunities.
Mr Chok said the commission had received three complaints from female teachers about discriminatory dress codes last year. "These cases have been successfully resolved after the schools concerned agreed to scrap the codes," he said.