BY CAROLINE TULLY
“I’m a doctor.” “I’m a laboratory assistant.” “I’m a nurse.” “I’m a chemist.”
Elite titles like these must be supplemented with a uniform that has the functionality required for these roles. Scrubs today are made of breathable fabrics to provide these workers with the flexibility they need while still being durable enough to protect them from the hazardous materials they interact with. However, scrubs have not always been able to provide STEM workers with these luxuries.
The 1900s to 1950s
Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, established the earliest design for the medical scrub. The inspiration for the design stemmed from the nun’s habit and included a floor-length white apron, button-down shirt with puff sleeves, and white caps. The color white was chosen because it gave staff a clean look and could be laundered with stronger products like bleach to kill potential pathogens. This uniform provided healthcare workers with a professional, unified look that also kept their skin protected from various hazards within their respective workplaces.
The 1950s to 1970s
At this time, workers began noticing the flawed functionality of this uniform: the floor-length apron limited their mobility, the button-down shirt did not have any pockets, and the white caps were a distraction. Slowly, the length of the skirt raised to above the knee, and dress pants became an acceptable substitute for women. The strictly gendered contrasts became less defined, and women’s uniforms began to more closely resemble that of their male coworkers.
The 1970s to 1990s
By this time, the classic white had transitioned to a color commonly referred to as “surgical green.” Surgeons and other surgical staff were suffering from eye strain, and fatigue as the bright light in the operating room reflected off of the white color of their uniforms. The type of fabric was also adjusted from stiff cotton to polyester and spandex, which still maintain their pathogen protective abilities.
The 1990s to Present
The modern-day scrubs consist of a matching scrub top and pants that have features that are reflective of healthcare and scientific needs. They have many pockets for them to easily carry their stethoscopes, pen lights, and pager; they’re made of breathable fabrics that flow as they run from lab to lab, and they come in an array of colors to express individuality and/or team unification. Scrubs have evolved enormously from their gendered origins to the unisexuality that we see today. This evolution of medical apparel is reflective of society’s progression in including women in STEM fields. It is important that women feel empowered and of equal value within the workplace, and a gender-neutral uniform is a step in the right direction for that equality.
Figs is one of the top brands for scrubs today and have been admired for its desire to celebrate, empower, and serve healthcare workers. Figs has a market cap of $1.57 billion and a gross margin of 70.59%. What makes Figs so popular is their commitment to the customer. Scrubs are more than just a uniform; they are a symbol of safety and identity. The work of scientists and medical professionals is of great importance, and their uniforms should be reflective of that.