Girls’ school shoes are hobbling their chances in life

Are tlimsy, open-topped shoes marketed to little girls telling them they aren’t meant to be physically active? From The Guardian.

11 Septmber 2017

Last week, like many parents, I walked into a shoe shop to buy my daughter some school shoes. Outside it was raining, and all I wanted was a nice, stylish, practical pair of shoes for my daughter to start the new school year.

We went over to the girls’ section and, as usual, found 25 pairs of Mary Jane or ballet pump style shoes. Just five pairs of shoes on display actually covered the whole of a girl’s foot.

Out on the street adult women wore shoes that protected their feet from the heavy rain, but on the school run little girls stomped along with half covered feet, grey tights darkening in the damp.

Forget all the rowing about “gender neutral” and boys wearing dresses; whether you are ideologically invested in your daughters’ footwear and clothing or not (and by that I mean concerned by the evidence that shows overly gendered influences hold back girls in Stem subjects and beyond), surely we all just want our kids’ feet to be warm and dry?

Think about it. Boys have sturdy shoes that cover their whole foot and are suitable for running, climbing and adventuring. Girls have Mary Janes that are suitable for … a party. (A party where you get soggy feet if it rains.) And this is the picture up and down the country. It’s insane. We’re pumping millions of pounds into trying to get girls active – the brilliant This Girl Can campaign cost £10m – and yet every damn day we’re sending them out in school shoes that they cannot be properly active in.

And then we wonder why only one in 10 of all 14-year-old girls do the right amount of exercise to be healthy, or why 2 million fewer 14- to 40-year-old women than men play sport regularly. Sport England’s research that led to This Girl Can revealed that 75% of women want to be more active but that fear of judgment by others is the primary barrier holding them back from participating in sport.

Where does this judgment come from? I think I know. Because I already see it rearing its ugly little head at my five-year-old daughter. She’s already being told that “football’s for boys” – she can see that in the shoe shop where the football motifs only appear in the boys’ section – and she’s well used to the colour coding and messaging telling her which toys/activities/careers/hobbies she should be interested in according to her sex. It is good to see retailers such as John Lewis and Clarks beginning to redress some of this in their labelling, but as long as the products themselves remain so gendered it’s all just decoration on a big old sexist cake.

It’s no surprise how that translates in the playground – with girls rarely playing ball games at lunchtime – or PE lessons and after-school sports clubs, where coaches complain that boys won’t pass girls the ball, or girls are reluctant to attend. Education specialists describe school playgrounds being dominated by boys playing active games, while girls occupy the outer edges of the space, taking up less physical room. This at a developmental stage where boys and girls are still the same size. It’s the childhood precursor to “manspreading” and all that it symbolises.

Of course discussing the gendered state of clothes and toys is seen as ideological brainwashing, loony leftism taken a step too far. But the reality is that toys and clothes in the 21st century are more gendered now than they were for my generation growing up in the early 1980s. In the Sears catalogue advertisements from 1975, for example, less than 2% of toys were explicitly marketed to either boys or girls.

Why? It all comes down to profit. Why sell one box of Lego when you can sell two just by gendering the colours and themes on the box. In Jacques Peretti’s excellent BBC documentary The Men Who Made Us Spend (2014), he examined the way in which children are increasingly targeted by marketers as mini consumers – with the average British child seeing 10,000 TV adverts a year. Any parent who’s ever sat through just one ad break on a children’s channel will be able to tell you that it’s the most explicitly gendered thing you’ve ever seen – with boys and girls typically appearing separately, in a whirl of pink and high-pitched voices or blue with a backdrop of angry guitar music.

Why does this matter? All the studies tell us that being physically active is good for our children, in particular for girls who frequently struggle with body image issues and self-confidence. Sport and exercise have the power to change our daughters’ lives – bringing enhanced career opportunities, biting back at the gender pay gap, and boosting their self esteem. Who wouldn’t want that for their kids?

This morning my daughter told me that she doesn’t want to wear trousers to school any more because they’re “for boys”. Other parents often tell me the same thing. It was almost a century ago that women in this country won the battle to wear trousers. It is enormously troubling to think we might be raising a generation of children increasingly exposed to regressive ideas about gender, sold down the river for a bit of profit.

Rowville Secondary College

Girls at Rowville Secondary College were banned from wearing t-bar school shoes from 2013. They wear black shoes and white socks with both their summer and winter uniforms, with navy tights an option in winter.


Only black polishable leather lace-up school shoes with heel. No other style of shoes permitted


School Shoes

T-bars will no longer be part of the uniform in 2014.

This decision was made by College Council in the interest of student health and safety as an alarming number of students wear T-bars unbuckled.

N.B All parents/guardians/students were advised of this in the 2013 packages distributed Term 4 2012.

All parents/guardians are advised to purchase black polishable leather lace up school shoes with a small heel.


Summer Uniform

– College summer dress (of modest length with under garments not visible)
– OR College grey slacks and plain white College shirt
– OR College standard length grey shorts and plain white College shirt;

– College jumper;
– plain white socks (above the ankle with no logos);
– black polishable leather lace-up school shoes with heel
– OR black polishable leather T-bar school shoes with single buckle and heel.


As of 2013, due to continued Occupational Health and Safety issues, T-bar shoes will no longer be acceptable and all students will be required to wear black polishable leather laceup school shoes.

June 12th 2012,_Issue_8_-_June_2012.pdf

Parents/Guardians please note that effective from 2013 T-bars will not be part of the uniform. College Council has made this decision in the interest of student safety.

16 December 2011


Girls : T- bars will be replaced by black leather lace up shoes. The reason for this change is that they are not strong enough as the buckle often breaks leading to students wearing them in manner that could result in injury. Increasingly students are choosing to wear them unbuckled in this dangerous and untidy manner.

Wheelers Hill Secondary College

Girls at Wheelers Hill Secondary College are not permitted to wear t-bar school shoes. They wear white socks with their summer dress, and grey, black or white socks or navy blue tights with their winter uniform.


Dress: burgundy check school dress
Shorts: grey shorts (optional) OR navy (tailored (optional)
Socks: white socks must be worn with shorts or dress. grey, black or white socks can be worn
with winter trousers


Skirt: blue/burgundy check school skirt
Trousers: grey school trousers OR navy (tailored)
Socks: grey, black or white socks can be worn with winter trousers navy socks must be worn with skirt
Tights: navy blue

Slip-on canvas shoes, t-bars and sneakers are not permitted. OHS legislation demands that footwear be safe for the activities undertaken. At school this includes Science experiments with chemicals, Materials Technology with machinery and tools, Food Technology with boiling water and other subjects with a range of physical activities.

Shoes must be laced at all times. T Bar shoes are not OHS compliant and cannot be worn under any circumstances.

Point Cook Senior Secondary College

Girls at Point Cook Senior Secondary College are permitted to wear t-bar school shoes. They wear them with white or navy blue socks, with the option of black or navy blue tights in winter.

The compulsory aspects of the uniform are:

1. Footwear will be black, polishable leather shoes with a low heel (not boots above the ankle, not skate or canvas shoes or any other variation of sport shoe).

2. During Terms Two and Three the outer garment worn to and from the college must be either the blazer, jumper or spray jacket from the range. Blazers can be retained by students coming to the college from Carranballac, but must be re-pocketed with the PCSSC logo. During Terms Two and Three students may also wear the college scarf.

3. Socks must be plain white or navy blue and must cover the ankle bone. During Terms Two and Three students have the option of wearing navy blue or black tights.

4. Ties are to be worn at all times (except for students wearing summer dresses), except when students are directed to remove them in the case of warm weather.

5. If a hijab is worn, it must be white, maroon, black or navy blue. When a hijab is worn the student can then be excused from wearing a college tie. A long skirt in the uniform colours is available but must be ordered, no other colour should be worn.

Harrison t-bars on student exchange

Girls at St Catherine’s School Toorak have a student exchange program with their sister school, St Catherine’s in Bramley.

The English girls have the option of wearing loafers, mary-janes, brouges or classic laceup shoes with their school uniforms.

The Australian girls wear the same school uniforms as their host sisters, but have brought their Harrison t-bar shoes along for the trip across the world. Can you spot the four Aussies?

Keilor Downs College

Girls at Keilor Downs College are permitted to wear t-bar school shoes. They wear them with short white or black ankle socks in summer, and navy tights in winter.


As of 2017 students will be expected to wear leather-style school shoes with a distinct heel as part of their everyday uniform.

Students are only to wear runners on the days they have PE and/or sport classes

Springside West Secondary College

Girls at Springside West Secondary College are permitted to wear t-bar school shoes. They wear them with grey socks in summer, with the option of black tights in winter.

Option 1:
Long or short sleeve shirt with logo;
Long grey pants;
Soft shell jacket or blazer;
School jumper;
School socks grey(compulsory);
School shoes.

Option 2:
Long or short sleeve shirt with logo;
Grey shorts;
School socks grey(compulsory);
Soft shell jacket or blazer;
School jumper;
School shoes.

Option 3:
Long or short sleeve shirt with logo;
School winter skirt- long or standard;
School socks white(compulsory) or
Black stockings;
Soft shell jacket or blazer;
School jumper;
School shoes.

Option 4:
School summer dress;
School socks white(compulsory);
Soft shell jacket or blazer;
School jumper;
School shoes.
Note: there are to be no stockings
worn with this option.

Note: There is to be no mixing or matching with these options.

No leggings/tights that cut off at the ankle are permitted.