Presenter: Patti Giuffre*, Professor, Department of Sociology, Texas State University
The world of elite chefs is almost exclusively male. How is it that being a chef—a job based on the feminized skill of cooking—is considered a masculine occupation? This book combines content analysis of food media with interviews with 33 women chefs in Texas to address how the chef occupation became and remains male-dominated. We found that food writers and critics describe men’s work as chefs as “revolutionary” and “daring” while women earn praise when they stick to traditional foods much like how grandmothers would cook. Within professional kitchens, women chefs have to constantly prove they can fit in with their male colleagues and face discrimination in hiring and promotion. For women chefs managing to navigate these professional obstacles, other challenges, such as how to balance work and family, ultimately push some of the women out of the career. Our book concludes with a discussion of how women chefs can take advantage of feminine strengths to earn greater representation in professional cooking.
*Dr. Giuffre’s talk is sponsored by the Wilson Center and the Institute of Women’s Studies