Analysis of 2,286 Michelin-starred restaurants across 16 countries, as well as the top 100 restaurants in the world ranked by The World’s 50 Best group (three quarters of which are also Michelin starred) revealed that female chefs remain sorely underrepresented in leading culinary roles.
This despite the number of female chefs being on the rise worldwide, with several countries including the UK and the US reporting a steady increase over the past few years.
Overall, 6.04% of the Michelin-starred restaurants analysed are led by women and 6.73% of the world’s best 100 restaurants have a female head chef. But the averages hide striking differences among various countries.
For example, the share of women-led top restaurants in the United Kingdom is 8%, and in the US it's 7%. While Italy and Spain lead the table with the highest share of women in leading culinary roles, at 10% and 11% respectively.
In contrast, there were no female chefs running Michelin restaurants in Singapore, Ireland, Sweden or Denmark.
Meanwhile, in the Nordic region, encompassing Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, there is currently only one female chef (from Norway) running a Michelin-starred restaurant compared to 63 male-run Michelin restaurants in the region.
In the Netherlands, there is only one female chef among the 112 chefs running the country’s top restaurants, while in Germany, there are only 13 female chefs among the country’s 337 Michelin-starred head chefs.
France scores only marginally better than Germany with 5% of Michelin-starred restaurants led by women.
The World's 50 Best Restaurants, which celebrated its 20th anniversary earlier this week, has handed out an award for The World’s Best Female Chef for the last 10 years, to 'draw attention to this inequality and to shine a light on supremely talented female chefs – both with the aim of celebrating them as individuals, but also to inspire future generations of young women'.
“Until women are more equally represented in the hospitality sector or occupy higher positions within the industry on a more equal scale, we will continue to celebrate and elevate the achievements of women in this space” says William Drew, director of content for The World’s 50 Best Restaurants.
“We hope that one day The World’s Best Female Chef Award isn’t needed, but until there is more diversity in the industry, we’ll continue recognizing the best female chefs and inspiring ongoing debate around gender issues in the food world.”
Slovenian chef Ana Roš, a previous winner of The World’s Best Female Chef award, says she expected the percentage of top restaurants being led by women to be smaller.
“It is a consequence of a very traditionally organized society,” she says. “Where women multi-task and are responsible for so many things in their personal lives from taking care of their children, family, and household.”