If Cooking is “For Girls,” Where Are All The Female Executive Chefs?

Despite the large strides women have made in the workforce in last hundred years, most jobs are still designated as “for men” and “for women.” STEM fields are dominated by men, and occupations involving arts and humanities are traditionally thought of as jobs for women.

Yet, many of the jobs that society expects women to hold are dominated by men. Seemingly, everything considered “girly” on an amateur level lacks representation of women at the professional level.

Take cooking for example. Cooking originated as women’s work as far back as the Agricultural Revolution, which began around 8000 B.C.E. The men worked in the fields, and the women were tasked with cooking. This social setup continued into the modern era, when men went off to work while women were left to take care of the house and the children and make sure supper was on the table when their husbands came home from work.

Even after thousands of years spent in the kitchen, women are still hugely underrepresented in executive positions in the food and restaurant industry. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2016, 53.5 percent of food preparation and serving-related occupations were filled by women, while only 21.4 percent of chefs and head cooks were women. As it appears, cooking is still “for women,” but leadership positions are not.

The acting profession suffers from the same problem. Similar to cooking, theater is stereotypically feminine. Singing, dancing and wearing costumes and stage makeup are considered feminine characteristics, but taboo for more masculine characters. Yet, when these boys and girls grow up, it’s the boys who make it big. According to the New York Film Academy, the top 500 films from 2007 to 2012, for every female actor, there were 2.25 male actors. Not only that, but only 30.8 percent of speaking characters in these films were women.

The same goes for live theater. While merely liking musical theater and being a boy is enough to get you ridiculed in high school, men dominate as playwrights in the professional world. According to American Theatre, only 24 percent of productions across America in the 2014-2015 season were written by women.

And that brings us to our third disproportionately male industry: journalism. Writing is seen as abstract and emotional – adjectives associated with women. Meanwhile, men tackle the more complicated and important matters, like engineering and software development.

Despite this stereotype, however, women make up significantly less than half of the newsroom. Pew Research reported that in the United States in 2013, 37.2 percent of women held newspaper jobs, and 35.4 percent of women held newspaper supervisor positions. In journalism, not only are women underrepresented in leadership positions, but also in newsrooms as a whole.

If cooking, acting and writing are “girly,” then why are women so underrepresented in positions of power in these and other such industries? If even the jobs that society has deemed are “for women” are actually for men, then what careers should females actively pursue? I venture to say: every career should have equal opportunity for both genders. This may come as a surprise, but not every woman wants to be a nurse or an elementary school teacher (two of the jobs most heavily dominated by women).

Gender should not dictate what a person does for a living or their likelihood of holding a position of leadership in their field of choice.

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