International Women's Day - gender equality at sea and at a cooker. Adam Reid explores.
In the current climate it seems very apt to consider the role of women in many male dominated industries.
I would put fishing in Alaska in that category. It is easy to think that it’s not a woman’s game and there would be no place for them in such a physically demanding trade, but I know that is not the case. There are many women performing just the same role as men in Alaska, and it makes me wonder if the same can be said all over the world, or whether, in such a small population, the normal stereotypes and prejudices dissolve in the face of a greater need to get the job done!
This leads me to consider my values. Do the usual stereotypes apply here; do I have a subconscious prejudice towards men?
The answer is emphatically no. I’ve always had female employees working for and with me, my restaurant manager has been the same woman, Kamila, for 5 years now.
Some argue that more women are moving in to kitchens as there is a skill shortage. This shortage is a challenge for us all, but that suggests that by hiring women we are compromising on skills and that is not the case. I know from experience that the maturity and sensibility you get from having women in the kitchen is invaluable. I would honestly have a full brigade of dedicated women working in The French and believe my product would be vastly improved because of it.
In general, I think the stigma of women not being able to compete with men is on its way out, we need to look at people as people and the best person to do a job is always going to be the person who wants to do it, not the one with the biggest muscles! A kitchen needs muscles and it also needs finesse. The two don’t always go hand in hand.
Places like Alaska and the fishing trade they have there, have shown me the vital role women can and do play and it’s an inspiration to me to take my own business forward and support gender equality in the hospitality industry.