Does the cooking world have a glass ceiling?

At a seminar about ‘women in the boardroom’ a couple of years ago, in the Q&A session, a black woman in the audience declared loftily that because she was both black and female, she was disadvantaged by a double-glazed glass ceiling. I laughed out loud, she glared at me, I carried on laughing. I may have theatrically wiped away a tear or two with a handkerchief. It’s a happy memory.

I was reminded of the incident by an article sent to me by Martin. The writer of the piece is Tim Capper, who must have been desperate for work to write a piece for Chef’s World about fewer than 1% of Michelin-starred chefs being women.

Extract #1, from a section, ‘Does the cooking world have a glass ceiling?’:

This extreme lack of top-rated female chefs might cause someone to believe there is more to this than meets the eye. After all, only one percent of Michelin starred chefs are female. Are women prevented from opening restaurants? [My emphasis]

Does Michelin practice a certain level of discrimination against women? Why are women not getting adequate respect in an industry where they could seemingly excel? [Possibly because they could seemingly excel, but manifestly don’t?]

A huge percentage of women in the world learn to cook, much higher than the percentage of men who learn this skill. Therefore, it is not for any lack of women performing this activity that they are not getting recognised. [Tim, you’re killing me…]

Extract #2:

One of the common theories regarding why more women are not chefs is the stressful lifestyle that the profession requires. The work is hard and takes a large amount of stamina that many women do not have. [I’m guessing you didn’t pass these two sentences by Harriet Harman MP for approval before publication?]

It is also very difficult for women to raise a family while holding down a job with such demanding hours as that of a chef. Being a mother and a chef is a task that is next to impossible, which would explain why many women opt for careers that allow them more free time to be with their children. [No shit, Sherlock!]


6 thoughts on “Does the cooking world have a glass ceiling?

  1. nrjnigel, well written. the question is when will the average man realise that tolerating ‘equality drives’ ie. feminism will never produce positive results. Men simply need to start telling women that their dreams and whims are just that,and nothing more.

  2. Having friends who left secondary school to enter college and/or start apprenticeships in cheffing and catering I know that at that time, the mid seventies, there were determined efforts by colleges and employers to attract girls into the profession. It seems unlikely that this only happened in the 1970s but was followed by similar campaigns in subsequent decades. It strikes me if 40 years of such determination has produced so few female chefs it means that women prefer not to do the job. Just like the improbable road signs on the roadworks on the local motorways (pictures of women road workers, children saying their mum works there) there has been decades of encouragement, campaigns, positive action, plain positive discrimination in “trades”. The definition of madness: doing the same things repeatedly and expecting a different result. Women are simply not going to choose to do dirty, dangerous, demanding work in any numbers .

  3. Woman near where I live opened a restaurant once. We burned it down, snapped her spatula and pushed her into the village pond.

    [/end of sarcasm] Seriously, what planet is this Capper chap living on? Are women being prevented from opening restaurants? By what, the Berkshire & Environs Employment Militia?

    p.s., Does he really not comprehend the difference between ‘cooking’ and what chefs do? I cook, always have, and I usually begin by expertly skinning live spuds and carrots, but the nearest I deserve to even a single Michelin Star is the spare tyre from the Rolls.

  4. Once more we come back to Preference Theory. Very few women reach the top in any profession as a consequence of their own lifestyle choices. Well, choices have consequences and you should not expect preferential treatment to absolve you from the consequences of those choices -which is what women do!
    Poor old Nigel Farage got lambasted for saying to be a successful City trader, first and foremost you need to be willing to work on client relationships which means PUTTING IN THE HOURS!

  5. I look forward to articles claiming those awful men are deliberately keeping women out of the kitchen because Patriarchy.
    No need to make it up – he’s already done it for us!

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