Miss USA Cheslie Kryst is sharing her experience with sexism to address gender bias in the workplace.
“I remember when I was in law school and I was competing in a moot court competition,” she said. “Afterwards, one of the judges came up to me and the only feedback that she had for me was ‘Make sure that you wear a skirt next time because the male judges prefer to see women in skirts not in pants.’”
Along with her national pageant title, Cheslie Kryst is a civil attorney and the creator of White Collar Glam, a workwear fashion blog that provides tips and resources for office attire.
“My blog is about making sure that women know the options that we have,” she explained. “We need to know that senior managers and other people who are deciding whether or not women should be promoted, whether or not women should get pay raises, and whether or not women should be judged the same as men do. We need to make sure that we’re prepared for that judgment.”
41% of U.S. employers are more likely to promote staff in “professional attire.” And while more companies are embracing less formal dress codes, Kryst says apparel remains a factor in gender bias.
“I don’t’ think that comments about what women wear are going to go away,” she said. “I think what’s important is that if you’re going to comment on a women’s clothing, hopefully, you’re making the same comments on men’s clothing. And hopefully, you’re giving both of them substantive feedback on their work product.”
In 2019, a record-breaking Fortune 500 list was published with 33 companies led by women CEOs—that’s still only 6.6% of Fortune’s list. Kryst credits national movements like TIME’S UP for this progress, which aims to hold everyone in the workplace accountable.