Survey of Dress Code of Teachers and Students
In February 2001, The Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union (“HKPTU”) and the Equal Opportunities Commission (“EOC”) have conducted a survey on the “Dress Code of Teachers and Students”. The results are as follows:
- 1350 questionnaires were sent to school representatives of the HKPTU and 744 completed questionnaires were received. (Response rate: 55%)
- About 29% of the schools under survey have imposed dress codes that prohibit female teachers from wearing long trousers to school except under special circumstances (Some schools only allow female teachers to wear long trousers to school depending on weather condition). This dress code is also applicable to female students and is prevalent in 84% of the schools under survey.
- The majority of respondents to the survey are in favour of changing the system and allowing both female teachers and students to wear long trousers to school.
The EOC considers that it is unlawful under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance to impose a dress code on the ground on sex, which will give rise to other detriment on the part of female teachers or students. Persons who are aggrieved by the dress code could lodge complaints of sex discrimination with the EOC. In fact, the EOC has received three complaints of sex discrimination against the schools for imposing a dress code on female teachers in 2000, and all these cases were successfully resolved.
A court decision, Judy Owen v PGA, in the United Kingdom ruled that the employer had discriminated against a female training manager of a golf club, by prohibiting her from wearing long trousers to work. The parent of a female student had filed a claim of sex discrimination against a school, which prohibited the female student from wearing long trousers to school. The claim was finally settled out of court as the school agreed to set aside the discriminatory dress code.
Both the EOC and the HKPTU hope that the school management would take note of the possibility of sex discrimination by imposing a dress code, and make appropriate changes to this so as to foster equal opportunities in schools.
Summary of the Survey of Dress Code of Teachers and Students
The survey indicates that about 29% of the respondents’ schools have imposed dress codes prohibiting female teachers and students from wearing long trousers to schools. Overall speaking, the majority of the teachers are against this dress code with a higher percentage of preference in abolishing the dress code on female teachers than female students. The findings of the survey are tabulated as follows:
|1. Sex of respondents:||Male||Female|
|252 (34%)||492 (66%)|
|2. Respondents’ schools:||Secondary School||Primary School|
|265 (36%)||479 (64%)|
|3. Dress code prohibiting wearing of trousers for female teachers:||Yes||No|
|4. There should be such a dress code for female teachers:||Yes||No|
|5. Dress code prohibiting wearing of trousers for female students:||Yes||No|
|6. There should be such a dress code for female students:||Yes||No|
The views from the perspectives of male and female teachers are respectively also cross-tabulated. It is found that almost all female/male teachers favoured the elimination of the prohibition for female teachers to wear trousers whereas 53% of male teachers and 64% of female teachers favoured doing so for female students.