I got several responses to a glib offhand comment I made earlier this week* about clothing, and I'd like to post a couple general responses:
I know that there is plenty of inequality in outcomes, that there are still plenty of sexists lurking around, and that there are plenty of places in the world where women are denied legal rights. My point was that in free Western democracies, the dress code is the only place you will find actual written rules, combined with very powerful and unquestioned social expectations, that put women at a disadvantage.
The evidence of human behavior suggests that men's clothing is superior to women's in terms of comfort, functionality, and practicality. When women are allowed to do so, they often choose to wear trousers. I don't think men lose anything by being denied the ability to wear skirts and high heels. It is true that social comfort is subjective, but the fact that people have been trained to be comfortable in impractical clothing means that that they could easily be trained to be just as comfortable in practical clothing, so they would get the benefits of both.
It is certainly possible that these dress codes were designed and enforced by one type of woman, those who look and feel good in these clothes. But it still has the effect of making life difficult for other women, who probably form the majority.
*Note to website or RSS readers: My blog is imported into my Facebook page, where people often comment on it.