From the Home Kitchen to Michelin Stars: Challenging Systemic Bias Against Female Chefs

Uduak Asuquo
2 min readOct 30, 2023

There exists a concerning gender disparity in the professional culinary industry. A common societal trope suggests that a woman’s place is in the kitchen — implying domestic culinary duties are intrinsically linked to traditional female gender roles. However, statistical evidence indicates that women are significantly underrepresented in prestigious, high-paying executive chef positions in the hospitality sector.

This ostensible contradiction highlights the insidious impacts of patriarchal norms and implicit gender bias. Domestic kitchen work remains an expected duty for women, yet the same labor when professionalized and monetized becomes male-dominated. The propagated misconception that male chefs possess superior physical stamina serves to justify the exclusion of women from elite roles, despite no empirical evidence supporting this flawed rationale.

Firsthand accounts relate to instances of hiring managers openly declaring executive chef roles unsuitable for women. Subsequently, female chefs are often relegated to lower-status positions regardless of merit, qualifications, or experience. Analysis of Michelin star recipients indicates fewer than 30% are women — even though culinary arts have traditionally been viewed as within the female domain.

Therefore, the hospitality industry requires urgent intervention to dismantle systemic discrimination. Organizations must implement policies to promote gender diversity, and equal opportunity and dismantle false gender stereotypes. Leadership roles should be granted based on capability alone, without bias. Women already perform domestic culinary labor without compensation — and thus deserve access to the same prestigious, lucrative positions as men when cooking professionally.

The distorted logic of preventing those naturally skilled in cooking from paid culinary success, while men lacking domestic cooking experience dominate, must be challenged. Gender equality initiatives, diversity training, and blind recruitment practices could help transform misogynistic norms. Progressive, egalitarian attitudes that shift ingrained assumptions surrounding gender and culinary pursuits are imperative.

In summary, the unjust exclusion of women from the upper echelons of the culinary field reveals issues of inequality, double standards, and implicit bias requiring redress. Hospitality must evolve to enable women to attain the high-status roles and compensation their skill and passion deserve — rather than imposing artificial limits.

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Uduak Asuquo

Freelance Creative Writer. Avid Reader. Closet Introvert. I want to tell stories that ruin your day in a good way.