8.5 Case Studies
Source: Photo courtesy of Ralph Aichinger, http://www.flickr.com/photos/sooperkuh/3275153928/.
In her blog Love This, MJ (full name not provided) relates that sheâ€™s been an aspiring clothes designer since she started sewing tops for her Barbie dolls. Things werenâ€™t going well, though, as she tries to break into the industry. One thing she notices is that there arenâ€™t a lot of female fashion designers out thereâ€”Vera Wang, Betsey Johnson, and a few more. Not many. So she starts trying to figure it out with questions like these:
- Do women want straight guy designers to dress them because they dress to please the men? It could make sense: what that designer likes, the man in her life is going to love too.
- Do women prefer gay men to dress them because gay men are their new girlfriends? Gay men are usually more receptive to trends and physical appearances too.
- Do women prefer women designers because she knows a womanâ€™s body better?
- Do men have the same issue? Do some men prefer a lesbian designer? Would they balk at being dressed by a gay designer?http://lovethis.wordpress.com/2007/07/28/sexual-orientation-in-the-fashion-industry.
- Assume MJ is right when she hypothesizes that most women like straight male designers because straight guys are the ones theyâ€™re trying to impress, so they want clothes straight guys like. Now imagine youâ€™ve been put in charge of a new line of womenâ€™s clothes. Your number one task: sales success. Youâ€™ve got five applicants for the job of designing the line. Of course you could just ask them all about their sexual orientation(s), but that might leave you open to a discrimination lawsuit. So could you devise a test for new applicants thatâ€™s fairâ€”that gives everyone an equal chanceâ€”but still meets your requirement of finding someone who produces clothes that straight guys get excited about?
- Four standard filters for job applicants are
- education level,
- high-risk lifestyle,
- criminal record,
- flamboyant presence in social media.
Which of these might be used to winnow out applications for a job as a clothes designer? Explain in ethical terms.
- MJ wonders whether women might prefer women designers because she knows a womanâ€™s body better. Is there a bona fide occupational qualification for a womenâ€™s fashion company to hire only women designers? Is there a difference between a BFOQ based on sex and one based on sexual orientation?
- MJ asks, â€œDo women prefer gay men to dress them because gay men are their new girlfriends?â€ Assume you think thereâ€™s something to this. Could you design a few behavioral interview questions that test the applicantsâ€™ ability to become girlfriends (in the sense that MJ means it) with their clients? Would these be ethically acceptable interviews, or do you believe thereâ€™s something wrong and unfair about them?