While we often hear about sexism in various science and tech industries, some may not realize that sexism is a true problem in the restaurant industry in New York and across the country. The industry is known to be male-dominated and culinary students often look up to “bad boy” chefs. The dominant and sometimes brutal behavior of these head chefs has led to a culture of aggressive and abusive males in the industry, according to one restaurateur.
This year a woman bravely filed a lawsuit in Canada that alleged three male chefs consistently harassed her both physically and verbally. Some of the acts included humping her from behind and touching her private parts. While we would all hope this is an isolated incident, the restaurateur points out that it’s definitely not. She explains that women in the restaurant industry are all too aware of these kinds of incidents. There are instances of bra snapping, being slapped with tongs and persistent grabbing happening across the country.
Statistics from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission show that the restaurant industry is actually the biggest “source of sexual harassment complaints.” Interestingly enough, most of these complaints come from the front of the house, meaning the bartenders and wait staff. The restaurateur explains that unlike in the kitchen, most people in these positions are not there to build a career. She says that females who want to build a career in the kitchen often avoid reporting sexual harassment in order to not to get a bad reputation.
The restaurateur hopes that more women will stand up and speak out about this type of harassment and that the restaurant industry culture will eventually change as a whole.