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Tuesday, August 9, 2022
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Why the Culinary Industry is Still So Male Dominant?

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More women have been employed in the culinary industry in the last few decades. Yet, only 20 percent of the head chefs are women, and men fill the remaining 80 percent of chef positions.
Only 7 percent of restaurants are owned and led by women in chef positions in the US. This issue is even more serious, considering over 51 percent of students enrolling in culinary institutes every year are female. This indicates the trajectory women face upon entering the hospitality industry as professionals.
These figures may surprise many—raising the question, what exactly keeps female chefs from pursuing the hospitality industry leadership?
Let’s take a closer look into why the culinary industry is so male-dominated and how it affects women working in the industry.
What’s Keeping Women From Pursuing Leadership Roles in Culinary Industry?
Joanna James, a journalist turned director, believes that many women fail to pursue leadership across the culinary industry because they don’t get access to capital, affordable childcare, and media coverage.
In every male-dominated sector, women lack the necessary support and funding. The culinary industry is still male-dominated because the industry recognizes male chefs as more competent. Investors don’t seem interested in investing in female chefs the way they invest in male chefs.
Although the hospitality industry is striving to be more open to female chefs in leadership positions, it has a long way to go.
Due to increasing discrimination, many women in the culinary and hospitability industry run their own restaurants. However, only a few privileged and lucky women entrepreneurs manage to accomplish this. Working in a male-dominated culinary industry means long hours and often tolerating racist and sexist behavior.
Many restaurant owners also prefer hiring male chefs because they think that only men have the discipline and resilience to survive the hardships of a professional kitchen environment. This is a shocking and outdated belief embodied by Fernand Point (the father of French cuisine), but this ideology still exists today.
Sexism and Misogyny
While it’s no secret that working in a professional kitchen is one of the hardest places to work, it is the heavy testosterone—or should we call it misogyny— that fuels the grueling environment and makes the professional kitchen a hostile workplace for women.
The so-called professional environment in the kitchen only encourages and shields the inappropriate male behavior gatekeeping the industry for women.
Sexual Harassment
Unfortunately, it’s also not uncommon for women to be harassed and ostracized in male-dominated industries.
This issue of harassment is also a growing problem in the culinary industry. There have been countless cases where female chefs had to endure sexual harassment while being paid less than their male counterparts.
Normalized Profane and Sexist Environment
The glamorization of a profane and chauvinistic environment in the kitchen is another extension of the issue. Because of these problems, women are often not welcome in the industry. Not because they are incompetent or can’t handle the pressure, but simply because they’re not taken seriously by their male superiors and counterparts.
The professional kitchen environment celebrates a misogynistic culture that allows grotesque behaviors we hear about frequently but take no action against. This environment is similar to that of a ‘boys club’ where every woman who enters is a ‘token’ and therefore experiences a lot of discrimination. As a minority, female chefs tend to be criticized more harshly.
Although the situation in the US is seeing some progress, Asia and other parts of the world show no promise. Many Asian countries still require a separate title for ‘best female chef’. While it may seem as though it’s celebrating the talent of a female culinary chef, the title is disheartening and unnecessary.
Women are often discouraged from pursuing a career as a chef because of the difficult and dreaded chauvinistic workplace environment.
Role of Media
Unfortunately, the media also plays a massive role in encouraging stereotypes. If you’re asked to picture a chef in your head, you’re likely to envisage Gordon Ramsay or a ratatouille cartoon male chef. But if asked who makes the dinner, our thoughts fly to our mothers or some other female figure.
The media is responsible for preserving gender imbalance to a great degree. Press coverage is mostly skewed towards male chefs rather than female chefs. According to head chef Amanda Cohen from Manhattan, this focus on male chefs is considered more financially lucrative. Because of this gender imbalance in the kitchen, many talented female chefs have been driven out of the industry.
Challenges Faced By Women
Mistreatment, lack of voice, lack of financial support, pervasive stereotypes, lack of emotional support, and loss of self-confidence are some of the challenges women face routinely working in a male-dominated culinary industry.
Being a minority, women also have to deal with the pressure of societal expectations. This leads to stress and anxiety, affecting the mental well-being of women working in such fields.
The lack of mentoring and career development opportunities are a few other challenges that women reportedly face working in the hospitality industry.
Surviving in a Male-Dominated Culinary Industry
Here are some tips for you to survive in a male-dominated field:
Focusing on the Positive
While it’s unfair for you to face such challenges, focusing on the positive will put those challenges into perspective.
Finding a Support System
Whether you’re a minority or the only woman at your workplace, it is important to find a solid support system. This support will help you meet your goals and provide you with a safe space to unwind.
Keep an Eye on Role Models
Being the only woman in a male-dominated culinary can be very lonely and frustrating. Find role models in real life or a celebrity you listen to or read about in online magazines. Knowing someone who has been through what you’re experiencing can make things easier and give you a clear perspective.
Hustle Mama Magazine is one of the best online magazines that caters to women. Each blog section offers tips for women entrepreneurs.
They discuss a variety of topics that are of interest to readers. The topics include female health, business, beauty, and much more.
Contact them if you want one of the best magazine subscriptions available for women.
About the Author
This blog’s author is passionate about raising awareness about multitudes of issues that women face in male-dominated industries. She aims to empower women through her writing by urging them to break the patriarchal cycle.

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