In the world of food and beverage, one I’ve covered for a few years now, the gender gap takes on a more in-your-face form: the dearth of women in the higher ranks. Top female chefs can garner a lot of attention not only for their talent but simply because there are so few of them — even if some of our most iconic American chefs/cooks (Julia Child, Alice Waters, Rachael Ray) are women. Peer into almost most any restaurant kitchen, and you’ll usually find testosterone running the line. (Last November, in explaining why Time magazine’s “The Gods of Food” cover excludes women, the section editor called the food world a “boy’s club;” while searching for art for this post, many images on a stock art site depicted scantily clad gamines in chef hats or moms baking/making meals for their family).
Women aren’t entirely absent from hospitality management, of course — there are some powerful women at the top, such as April Bloomfeld and Barbara Lynch. Yet since two-thirds of U.S. minimum wage workers are female, they’re sometimes more visible asking if you’d like fries with that (or bringing the check) than plating your Dover sole.
As popular culture has become food-obessed and chefs have become celebrities, this enduring “boys club” has stirred much public and private conversation; it would be gratifying to see the same conversation unfold in the meetings industry — because the numbers don’t lie.