Number of female chefs in UK rises by a third

By Sophie Witts

- Last updated on GMT

Number of female chefs in UK rises by a third

Related tags Female chefs Gender Chef Full-time

The number of female chefs in the UK has risen by a third since 2016, the biggest increase in the last five years, a new study shows.

Over the same period the number of male chefs rose by only 5.9%, while the overall number of chefs across the UK increased by 11.3%.

The figures, drawn from the last five years of data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and luxury hospitality recruiter The Change Group, show that one in four chefs in the UK is now female, up from one in five in 2016.

If the rate of growth continues, Change Group believes that women could potentially outnumber men at the pass by 2022.

Gender split

However, the study found that a gender divide still persists across the industry. Although 54% of the hospitality workforce is female, 58% of senior restaurant and catering roles are held by men.

Seven out of ten waiting staff are women, along with three out of five kitchen and catering assistants.

The Change Group says the disparity could be caused by the two thirds of women in the industry choosing to work part-time, compared to one third of men.

“[The rise of female chefs] is certainly a trend that we are seeing in the people that we are placing at London’s top establishments,” says Craig Allen, director of The Change Group.

“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.”

Balancing childcare

Many chefs have spoken about the struggle​ of juggling the long hours of hospitality work with childcare.

“It must be very hard to work in hospitality and look after a child because of the hours,” says Jenny Warner, head chef of The Thomas Cubitt.

“This is especially true when it comes to senior roles. Heading up a kitchen is a very full time role. How can you be in charge of a kitchen and come and go in order to look after a family? It’s not something that has a simple answer.”

Monica Galetti, chef-patron at Mere, told BigHospitality ​last year that restaurant employers needed to help parents balance their work with childcare.

“In this day and age women have the choice to choose what suits them and their families, some support from workplaces would go a long way in helping them stay in this amazing industry,” says Galetti.

Last year healthy fast food chain Leon introduced flexible 'parent shifts'​ to help staff return to work while juggling childcare.

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