Women more comfortable working for women-only firms

Women only: A group of hijab-wearing women gathers near the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle in Central Jakarta. The flourishing beauty-salon business aimed exclusively at women is a dream for some women in the city who consider that working in a same-sex environment is a wise choice. JP/P.J. Leo

Fifty-four-year-old Susan said she preferred working as a hair stylist at a beauty salon dedicated only to women.

“In the past, beauty salons had a bad image. Some male customers thought they could book or ask the employees for a date,” she said one afternoon, while cleaning her tools of the trade at the House of Shafa salon in Tebet, South Jakarta.

Susan said her employer had decided to make the salon exclusive for women and their husbands after one of her employees was molested by a male customer.

“We eventually accepted mostly women as our clientele,” she said, adding that the customers’ husbands could also seek treatments if they were well-known to the staff.

Susan, who has been a hairstylist for nearly 30 years, said one of her customers came up with the idea of opening a women-only beauty salon and asked her to work with her in 2002. “I have stayed put at the same place ever since,” she said.

She said that working at a salon intended only for women also gave her husband peace of mind. “He would not allow me to work here if the salon served both men and women,” she said.

Some women in the city consider that working in a same-sex environment is a wise choice. In many cases, their husbands also feel more comfortable knowing that they are working solely with female clients.

Susan’s colleague, 45-year-old Heryanti, told a similar story. Heryanti, who began working in 2007, said she used to have a small grocery store at her house. “I decided to work outside the home again after my children were old enough to look after themselves,” she said.

Heryanti said her husband had given her permission to work in a salon after finding out that it catered to women only. “I feel more comfortable [working] with female customers as my job focuses on people’s bodies,” she said.

She added that she also avoided the “unwanted” attention that tended to happen when they had to deal with male customers.

Rita Wahyuni, a cashier at Moz5’s counter in Palmerah Barat, West Jakarta, said she used to work at a company offering export services in Grogol, West Jakarta.

“I was about to quit my [previous] job as an administrative staffer, when a friend suggested I work at a Muslimah [female Muslim] salon,” said Rita, who is now pregnant with her second child.

Rita said the offer was a blessing for her. “I wanted to quit because my previous company did not allow its female employees to wear headscarves,” she said. Rita said she was thankful for her current job because she could freely practice her religion, wear a headscarf (hijab) and the wages were as good as her former salary.

Working at such places may be a blessing for female workers, but employers sometimes find it hard to recruit female employees.

Lindawati, a cofounder of Moz5, a salon specifically designed for women who wear hijab, said it was difficult to find employees to work in her salons.

She said one reason was due to salons not having a good reputation in some people’s minds.

“Parents often feel reluctant to let their daughters work in a salon because of its bad image [despite the fact that this salon is designed for women only],” she said. (cor)

By : The Jakarta Post

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