Guinness World Records made a formal announcement about their sexist “fastest nurse” policy—and it’s good news!

Update, May 9th, 2019, 12:14 p.m. The New York Times has reported that Guinness World Records reversed its decision after much public outcry, and Jessica Anderson, who completed the London Marathon in nurse’s scrubs on May 5th, will be awarded the title of fastest nurse. 

“It has become quite clear to Guinness World Records that our guidelines for the fastest marathon wearing a nurse’s uniform were outdated, incorrect and reflected a stereotype we do not in any way wish to perpetuate,” said Samantha Fay, a senior vice president for the company.

Hear, hear!

It may be 2019 but, unfortunately, old-fashioned gender stereotypes are still alive and well—especially when it comes to women-dominated professions, like nursing and teaching. In a particularly grating case, a marathon runner was recently denied the world record for “fastest nurse” because of stereotypical costume guidelines.

The Washington Post reported on May 5th that Jessica Anderson completed the 2019 London Marathon with a time of 3:08:22, becoming the fastest woman to complete a marathon dressed as a nurse. But Guinness World Records won’t recognize her as the world’s fastest nurse…because she was wearing scrubs and not a dress. (Let that sink in.)

Anderson, who works as a nurse in London, applied for world record consideration back in February, including a picture of her marathon outfit. But she told The Post that her application was rejected because Guinness required nurse costumes to include “a white or blue dress, pinafore apron, and white cap.” Even though she wears scrubs to work in real life, the rules still required applicants to comply with an outdated idea of how nurses dress.

Anderson appealed the decision, but Guinness maintained its ruling. In a note to the applicant, seen by The Post, the organization reportedly explained that it was concerned her nurse costume would be hard to differentiate from a doctor’s costume. The note also reportedly stated that both men and women had to wear a dress to meet the nurse costume guidelines.

In an interview with Runner’s World, Anderson called the costume guidelines “outdated.”

"Some of the nurses I work with do wear dresses but mostly we wear scrubs or a tunic and trousers," she told the publication. "I’ve certainly never seen a male nurse wearing a dress to work."

However, it seems that Anderson’s complaints have been heard. On May 4th, Guinness World Records Senior Vice President Samantha Fay said in a statement that the organization would reevaluate its guidelines.

"Guinness World Records takes the matters of equality and inclusiveness very seriously," the statement read. "I want to ensure all concerned that we have recognised the need for an immediate review of this attempt and the fastest marathon dressed as a nurse category and associated guidelines which we will begin as a priority. We are also committed to consistent reviews of all record categories to ensure they reflect the world we live in today."

It’s frustrating that Anderson was denied her rightful title because of a technicality, but we’re glad that Guinness is reconsidering its requirements. World record or not, Anderson’s marathon time is seriously impressive, and we’re grateful that she’s speaking out.

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