Michelle Wie

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Female pro-golfers are under fire because of their choices of attire on the fairway, apparently going against strict dress-code guidelines set out by golf clubs. Several female golfers have been noted to be ‘pushing the boundaries’ of what is acceptable as golfing attire, but what is the reasoning behind such guidelines?

Deana Bates, Solicitor in Employment Law, investigates the strict dress-codes employed by golf clubs and how this can be aligned to complaints within the working world, where in some workplaces what a woman wears is more of a focus than her skills to do the job.

Turning Heads On The Green

American professional golfer, Michelle Wie has recently come under scrutiny for her choice of golfing attire. Michelle is well-known for her short skirts and tight fitting tops when playing golf. Criticism occurs when the young golfer bends down to ‘eye the lie of the green.’ Fans of the golfer on social media have claimed her moves on the golf course could be described as ‘soft porn.’

Dress-codes have existed in golf for both men and women since it became popular in the 19th century. But focus on what a female professional golfer is wearing rather than her skill in the sport is a growing issue. Another female golfing pro who receives similar types of attention is Paige Spiranac who became particularly popular when she appeared in a golfing trick compilation video. The golfer now has over 1 million Instagram followers.

Sporting Attire

Golf attire is often described as ‘casual office dress’ and usually includes items such as chinos and collared t-shirts that must be tucked in. But young female professional golfers are making waves with attire that looks a lot more like the clothing you would expect from a female tennis player. The Ladies Professional Golfing Association does have a dress-code, but does not stipulate the length of a skirt or shorts. However, individual golfing clubs push for their own dress-code for both on and off the green.

When golfing in more humid climates, it’s no surprise that female golfers are choosing to wear shorter skirts and athletic style tops. But has this rebellion against the more traditional golfing attire caused women to become more objectified and taken the focus away from their expertise on the green?

Skills Spotlight

Dress-codes in the work place have become an increasingly controversial topic as women around the country are revealing the dress-codes they have had to stick to, including the wearing of high heels and the compulsory dying of hair. Dress-codes of this sort have been questioned by many in recent months, as many ponder whether women are being blocked from promotion or initially being hired because of what they wear. The focus on Michelle Wie’s sporting attire and the wide discussion of Paige Spornaiac’s good looks pose the question of whether women can be safe from these objectifying views in any platform.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) provide advice for employers and employees on all things related to the working environment, including dress-code. The page dedicated to dress-code encourages employees to, “consider the reasoning behind it” when drafting a dress-code for employees. If a company is seen to be detrimental to one gender over another, it leads the way to claims being made against them because they are discriminating on the grounds of sex.

Whilst a large proportion of golfers cling on to their traditional golfing attire for both men and women, the business world needs to ensure they are clued up in the law surrounding dress-code and guarantee that rules and guidance for employees avoid gender leaning policy.

Deana Bates comments:

“It’s a shame that even in the 21st century women still get judged on their looks rather than the merits of their work, or play in this case. Golf is a popular sport and one would hope that professional golfers and fans of the sport could depart from the narrow perception around gender and attire, moving towards a  fairer and less discriminatory world for  women in the future.”

“Attitudes and dress-codes of this sort encourage a long-standing gender stereotype that women are there to look good. It’s such a shame that even in the progressive world of sport, the focus can’t be on what women are achieving and the skills they possess.”

The Government’s recent rejection of tougher action on employers who force women to wear high heels, short skirts and make-up to work is a real worry. This refusal to take these ridiculous dress-codes seriously diminishes what is actually a grave problem. Gender stereotype, and in turn sex discrimination, needs to be completely abolished both on and off the green.”

“Anyone who has been discriminated against in the work place because of their appearance or otherwise can contact Simpson Millar to get advice on employment rights and on what to do next.”


Written by Deana Bates.

For more information on personal injury and the services offered by Simpson Millar, please call:

0808 129 3304

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