"Consider, hypothetically, if someone had decided, "Let's choose a color men won't want to wear, so we won't have to work with men." I'm not saying anyone actually did, but if they had, that would clearly be discriminatory. "
That would be a problem- creating a hostile work environment is a big no-no- when it's done on the basis of race, gender, age, etc etc. But I can't see any nursing unit being organized enough or having enough foresight to plan such a thing, even if they did want to exclude men for whatever reason.
I seriously doubt that the unit planned the color as a way to exclude anybody. Nurses do shoot ourselves in the foot rather frequently, but not with that much organization.
"Again, I'm having a hard time thinking what would be equally uncomfortable to women. A lot of the clothing in male-dominated occupations is ugly, but in many instances, ugly is dictated by function, so it isn't just arbitrary."
When I've worked places that instituted dress codes, there was a lot of anger about it and a lot of argument about what color would be chosen. These color choices ARE uncomfortable with many women. Most women don't want to wear an unflattering color, a hard to find or hard to launder fabric, a color that our underwear shows through, etc. Here, the dress code is dictated by function and color availability. A kinda girly color was chosen, IMHO likely for the completely NON-gender related reasons I mentioned before. Would the OP's life be changed if he wore lavender? I don't think so. Plus, he can wear white- a color equally awful for him AND the women.
I have never heard of a female cop, firefighter, or highway worker asking for more feminine attire. Doesn't mean it has never happened, but... Stuff that FITS should be a no brainer, but special colors? Never heard of such a thing. The few women I've known who entered male dominated fields tried to fit in, not change the rules from day 1. I've never seen a woman ask for a special exemption from a dress code because it's not feminine enough.
"Besides, some women look really good in greasy coveralls..."
"I really only mean that when decisions like dress codes are made, due consideration should be given to what is likely to make part of the nursing population feel unwelcome or uncomfortable."
Agreed, but NO color makes everybody happy. If color coding is the goal, there are only so many navys, hunter greens, etc. out there. I was interested in how the OP suggested that white was OK for women but not for men. To quote a teenager I know, PUHlease. To many nurses, myself included, white is a color that represents old fashioned, repressed, stand up to give the doctor my chair nursing. Not me. And my Jockey for Her and your Jockey for Him undies will show through equally well. It just seemed interesting that he was complaining about colors leading to assumptions, but suggested that a color not good enough for him was good enough for the girls.
"Not all patients and visitors get the hang of the code, but some do, and at least the employees know who they're talking to."
I think the people who notice anything will notice that there is a system. They might not figure out that blue is dietary, peach is lab, and fire engine red is the RN, but the fact that there IS a system comes across.
BTW, I'm not a fan of black scrubs for just this reason- who does the patient think is coming for them? Black would be particularly bad for Transportation!