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Feb 23, 2012 07:21 AM

Gender gap in Chef's salaries.

And restaurant chefs makes less than all the other culinary related job titles.

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  1. Interesting article. I wonder, what is a "Research Chef"?

    3 Replies
    1. re: peter j

      A Research Chef works for a corporation (Mickey d's, Darden, Kraft Foods-- lots of places) developing and testing recipes for the brand(s). You know, all those recipes you see on cereal, rice and etc boxes? or new dishes for Red Lobster, Olive Garden? Research Chefs do them.

      It's a cushy job. 9 to 5, regular days off, vacation time, 401k. Benefits like in the real world.

        1. re: ChefJune

          two guys i know, previously chef-owners of pretty big-name places in boston, went to work as r & d chefs for au bon pain and the other for dunkin' donuts. pay is excellent, hours are human, no investors breathing down your neck and you can spend real time with family and friends.

      1. I am utterly not surprised. Women are totally down on the food chain in restaurants. I am female; I know this. I am not bitter but I fully understand this reality. In places where I worked and earned more than the men, all hell broke out when they learned this.

        1. I have nothing to base this on except my gut feelings but I'm thinking the disparity is based more on women being comparatively new to the field (yes I can name many great women chefs as well). Because of this they toil at the bottom of the food chain with their male counterparts (line cooks, sous chefs) and it takes time to work up the chain, lots of time. So, at the same level, I think women and men are similarly compensated.

          Then there is the argument of which gender is more willing to put in 60 hour work weeks and forego a personal life for a culinary career. A male chef is a "catch" and his hours are expected whereas a female chef is more like "you have to put the kids to bed each night? And your wife works every weekend and holiday?" Now before jumping on me for sexist comments, I'll add the theory that women are just "smarter" and refuse to put up with the bs, the 60 hour weeks, and the poor salaries and leave the field for something better at an earlier time in their career.

          Women also seem to dominate on the pastry side - notoriously lower paid and, until recently, under appreciated.

          7 Replies
          1. re: bobbert

            Interesting theory. I wonder whether there is a gender gap among TV chefs. Rachel Ray, Paula Deen, Lidia Bastianich, and Ina Garten seem to dominate that niche.

            1. re: Riverman500

              That's an entirely different genre. Of those you named, only Lidia Bastianich is a chef. the others are all TV personalities & cookbook authors.

            2. re: bobbert

              I guess you didn't read the article, then. There was a reported $17,950/year in median base salary (and $19K in total compensation) gender gap among those who had reached the level of executive chef.

              I suspect that a more rigorous analysis would find that women are less compensated after you control for experience level and similar factors. It's that way in other professions, so why not the culinary arts?

              1. re: FoodPopulist

                I read the article and still think my theory has some merit. Sure, there's that huge difference in executive chef salaries, almost too huge. Maybe male exec chefs, on average, have been in those positions for many more years than the average female executive chef for whom the career field is comparatively new and therefore command a higher average salary.
                There are a lot of possible variables. Are men more likely than women to work in someplace like NYC where salaries are much higher in general than in smaller cities/towns? Who knows?

                I'm not questioning whether there is gender bias in pay between men and women in our society - I think there is plenty evidence to support that there is. I am questioning the size of the disparity in this field and whether everything is factored in. I don't have the figures right in front of me but when someone starts saying men make 40% more for doing, not similar work, but exactly the same job as women, I question it. I just think there's more to these stats than meets the eye.

                1. re: bobbert

                  I look at the much smaller gap among culinary educators and I think there's something going on. I wonder if those chefs belong to unions which would minimize the gender gap in salary. If so, I would expect to see a larger gap in pay for chefs in other types of jobs.

                  My gut instinct is that a huge gender gap at all levels is closer to the truth than women and men at the same level being similarly compensated. Maybe the gap is only 75% of what is reported, but I doubt that it disappears when considering the factors you mention. In the overall job market, considering those factors such as experience, education, and location, women still typically earn 80% of what men do in similar jobs.

                  Maybe you think that there's no way American society could possibly be that unfair and that the data must be massively flawed. I'd suggest you be willing to consider that society is more unfair than you thought possible.

                  1. re: FoodPopulist

                    Educators usually have some kind of pay scale that is used which is almost always based on longevity. Each year or two you move up a step. I'm sure there are additional factors such as a certified master chef probably is higher up and as you point out, many college teachers are unionized which levels the playing field as well. The men in education probably average higher salaries because they've been in the position longer.
                    At the bottom - line cooks - the overall average salary of $23,000 is probably real close for men and women as we're looking at about ten bucks per hour and a couple of overtime hours per week. Not much wiggle room to pay someone less.
                    I don't disagree with your premise that women are underpaid compared to their male counterparts. My bleeding heart liberal bias would not let me believe otherwise and why should this field be any different when it comes to pay inequalities. I just question the degree that the stats show and think a lot is missing. I have a difficult time believing that a restaurant owner could consciously make a decision that if " I hire a woman for this position I will offer $20,000 less than if I hire a man." I just think there are many variables missing from the equation. I'm going to write the author and see if he responds. I will be prepared to eat crow.

                    1. re: bobbert

                      Well, the point about gender bias (and bias in general) is that it's subconscious decision making. There are a lot of people who do racist things without being conscious of the fact that it's racist.

                      I have an easy time believing that there are restaurant owners will make a lower salary offer if they decide the best candidate for the job is a woman rather than a man of the same skill level. And they're not conscious that they're doing it because that equal make candidate isn't standing there in front of them. Maybe they think that women are less capable of working long hours or more likely to have to miss a day due to family reasons and subconsciously discount that from the perceived value.

            3. If some kid came to me and asked what should i do when i grow up, Id tell them anything but chef. Both my sis and her husband work for top restaurants in nyc. my brother in law works 80 hours a week from mom to all major holidays including thanksgiving and christmas....still has hard time just covering their small home in suburb. their daughter rarely sees her dad and obviously, he never gets to spend holidays with his family. he is always tired and basically spends all sunday catching up his sleep. no life what so ever...he is no longer the great chef he dreamed of.....and looks like he even lost his passion for food.....very sad to see his situation. my sis is a pastry chef and currently working part time but starting soon, she will need to work six days as well at min salary. she hurt her back and arms tryng to lift large vags of flour, etc. seriously ,there is no quality of life......

              1. I dislike these types of surveys since there are many variables that aren't mentioned.
                Work experience, time spent on the job, type of job - heavy lifting,,, etc.

                Men may be paid more since they can lift the heavier load and the wife takes care of the kids so they can work the long hours.

                I'm sure there are men and women working in the business reading this board.

                Do you all think the gender gap is due to bias or based upon hours being able to work?

                2 Replies
                1. re: dave_c

                  dave_c, the gender gap has ALWAYS been there in America! I don't know about the rest of the world. But I am an elderly American woman, intelligent and well educated, and the "glass ceiling" has ALWAYS been there. I'm only suprised there is not an article in the Constitution that states that should a woman be elected president, her salary will be one third less than if she were male. It's no different in the American culinary world than it is in any other American career field. My only surprise is that anyone is surprised by it.

                  You guys in the rest of the world... What's it like out there? Do your women have financial equality with men in the work place? Many of you have had women presidents and prime ministers. There are several reigning queens in the world. We have yet to elect even a woman vice president, let alone a woman president. So are your women as well paid in the job market place as your men?

                  1. re: dave_c

                    "Do you all think the gender gap is due to bias or based upon hours being able to work?"
                    Surely some of both.

                    I tend to think that it's problematic to look at any issue this big as the result of a single factor. I'm sure all of the following play a role:
                    - Unconscious bias on the part of employers
                    - Conscious bias of employers
                    - Cultural differences in terms of how much time time and energy a woman is expected to give to her family
                    - Time lost to pregnancy
                    - Chauvinistic attitudes on the part of coworkers that make it harder to promote a woman
                    - Actual physical strength and/or stamina
                    - Perceived physicical strength and/or stamina
                    - Cultural differences in terms of how comfortable a woman is asking for a raise
                    - Cultural difference in terms of how acceptable it is to an employer when a woman asks for a raise

                    ... and surely dozens of other factors.