Number of female chefs rises

Chef Cristeta "Cris" Comerford prepares a meal inside the White House kitchen in this July 17, 2002 photo. Mrs. Laura Bush announced on August 14, 2005 that Comerford has been named the White House Executive Chef. Comerford is the first woman to serve in the job. White House Photo by Tina Hager

The growth in the number of female chefs is outpacing the rise in the number of chefs working in hospitality as a whole, although they still remain in the minority, according to figures released today.

The figures, based on an analysis of Office for National Statistics data by by luxury hospitality recruiter The Change Group, show that overall the number of female chefs in the UK grew by 34% over the past 12 months, the biggest single rise over the past five years. Meanwhile, the number of male chefs in the UK increased by only 5.9%, and the total number of chefs rose by 11.3%.

However, despite this significant growth in the number of female chefs, still less than one in four (23.5%) of the total number of chefs in the UK is female.

If the rate of growth in female and male chefs remains consistent, female chefs could potentially outnumber male chefs by 2022, says the analysis. However, it points to the fact that many more women than men work part time: only a third of men work part time, while only a third of women work full time, it says.

Men also dominate senior managerial roles as well as ownership of restaurants and catering establishments. On average over the past five years, 58% of senior restaurant and catering staff have been men to only 42% women.

Meanwhile, the figures show women dramatically and consistently outnumber men in what are termed “elementary services occupations”. Over the past five years, three out of five kitchen and catering assistants have been women, although this figure has declined from 67% in 2013 to 62% in 2017. Seven out of 10 waiting staff are also female.

Founder and director of The Change Group, Craig Allen, said: “It is great to see that there are more female chefs and that this figure has leapt up in the past year. This is certainly a trend that we are seeing in the people that we are placing at London’s top establishments. The hospitality sector wants more female chefs and we are delighted to see so many of London’s top establishments taking steps to recruit more women into their kitchens.

“However, it is worrying that the majority of senior roles are being taken by men, and also that so many women are working part time. On the one hand, this means that they have more flexibility, which could encourage more women to work in hospitality. Equally, it could also affect the opportunities open to women, as many senior roles are full time. This means that despite the hard numbers, arguably the overall impact which women are having in the hospitality sector is smaller, because so many are working in junior roles and part time.

“The surge in the number of female chefs joining the industry over the past 12 months could indicate that they are an important source of talent at a time which is vital as the hospitality sector continues to face a dire talent shortage. We may see more women rise to the fore, so the future in terms of employment could be brighter than anticipated for the industry.”


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