It's About Time

Earlier this week, Cristeta Comerford was named the first ever female executive chef for the White House. Far be it for me to applaud the Bush White House (something I don't believe I've ever done), but bravo to Laura Bush, who ultimately made the selection (or so it was reported). My question, however, is: how on earth did it take this long to have a female as head chef in the White House?

Throughout history, the kitchen has been an almost wholly female domain. Cooking three meals a day for her family was viewed as a woman's duty, in addition to keeping house and caring for her children-all tasks for which she was not paid, of course. In 2005, there are plenty of men who cook-for their families, in restaurants, on tv. Some even manage to do it while looking extremely...appetizing. But it seems that in the professional cooking arena, as with other jobs that have historically been viewed as "women's work," the greater one's professional success, the greater likelihood it is that that person is a male. Ms. Comerford is an all-too-rare exception to this rule.

Women are seen as nurturing caregivers, and are often primarily responsible for childcare in their households. As such, many women turn to teaching as a profession to make a career out of helping and educating young minds. Yet while many women are teachers, and many serve as school principals, according to this article, only 14% of school superintendants are women. This article states that the percentage of females serving in this role actually reached its previous high of 11% in the 1930s, and then the number began to drop in the 1950s. The number has essentially remained the same for 70 years.

Women have also traditionally served not only as childcare providers in their households, but they've also historically been responsible for the physical well-being of household members as well. Most of the country's nurses are women, yet according to this article, only 25% are doctors (although this number is rising).

It appears that the greater the perceived worth society places on a job function, the more likely it is that that position is held by a male. While women can dominate that job role at home, for free, as soon as the job moves to the public sphere, where a salary is attached, the upper echelons of that profession are domainated by men.

My hope is that Cristeta Comerford's appointment opens more doors to executive chef appointments for women. It's about time.

9 Responses to “It's About Time”

  1. # Blogger Indigo

    Well I agree, it is about time there was a executive chef at the White House. Honestly, I had no idea that there wasn't though....

    Michele sent me today!  

  2. # Blogger mg

    Excellent post~!

    Thanks for the visit today :)


  3. # Blogger Amy

    You read my mind! I thought about posting about the new WH chef, but I didn't put nearly as much thought into it as you did. Great post!

    Although this is not the path that I chose, I'm hoping that with the rise in women who remain childless and thus have plenty of time to expand their careers, the salary/prestige gap will close.

    On the other hand, plenty of women are able to juggle very demanding careers with the needs of their families--I just haven't figured out how, yet. :)  

  4. # Blogger Kross-Eyed Kitty

    Very interesting post!
    As a nurse, I am also appreciating that there are more MEN involved in nursing these days.  

  5. # Blogger Kristi

    Indigo-I know. It's crazy that's it's taken this long, isn't it? Thanks for visiting.

    Mean_girl-Thank you!

    Amy-Yup. I agree. It's a shame that it's 2005, and we're still in the "The first woman to ever..." era. We should have passed those milestones a long time ago.

    Kross-Eyed Kitty -I agree!  

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