When a man goes into a job interview, chances are he won't give a ton of thought to his outfit — and the company won't either. But somehow, still, employers seem to give women's fashion choices more weight, to the point that they could actually cost someone the job. At least that's what Rosie Reilly says happened to her.
The 26-year-old Colchester, England resident interviewed for a position with Boots Opticians. It was going well until she was supposed to appear in front of customers.
"The woman said: 'The second half of the interview takes place on the shop floor but you are not really dressed conservatively enough to be seen on the shop floor, so you can come back on Thursday if you like?" Reilly told Buzzfeed.
She didn't know what the interviewer meant, so she asked her which aspects of her appearance she was referring to. "She just gestured to my clothes and my hair," she said. "I can have it flat down with a fringe, but she just looked at me and said I should dress in a 'conservative way.'"
In a photo of Reilly dressed for the interview, she's in a button-down shirt and knee-length skirt. Her head's shaved on the sides, but as she pointed out, that's probably not what the interviewer was referring to, since it's not something she could've changed by Thursday. She has a nose ring in, but she told Buzzfeed she would've been glad to take it out if that was required. And on her feet, there were only plain black boots.
Ultimately, Reilly decided it was Boots' loss. "I was pretty much bawling my eyes out on the way home," she said. "I’m not doing that, I don’t want to work for a company like that who will say something like that…that will stop an interview based on how I look."
A Boots Opticians spokesperson told Buzzfeed the company is investigating the case. And though there's no way to say for sure if Reilly's experience was pure gender discrimination, multiple women have reported similar incidents.
Sure, office dress codes have their place. But all too often, they've become a way to justify judging women by their looks.