Significant Stuff

October 1, 2010

I had a head full of rant and was teetering on my soapbox this morning but then decided to let it simmer.  I drove to Racine to do some final ‘new tenant’ errands and to take Elliott to a new dog park.  I’ve been to the bank and have returned some stuff to Home Depot.  Now I’m home and the most significant thing ahead of me is to write this post. .

Have you ever heard of Alamelu Vairavan?  Or Thomas Schultz?  How about Karen Wilets?  Jason Gorman?

Maybe you’d know the names if you were foodies.  They’re chefs.

Carlos DeLeon, Justin Aprahamian, Thi Cao, Nick Burki and Chris Hateli?  All together, you have the people featured in today’s cover story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  7 or the 9 are men.

Of the chefs in the article, 2 headshot photos are thumbnails.  Guess which 2?

The women.

The other photos are posed head and shoulders or kitchen action shots.  Good pictures.

Next question:  Of the individual bio write-ups, guess which 2 are the shortest?

The women.

Of the 2 female chefs listed, one has her own TV show.  The other owns a catering business.  The 7 male chefs are cooks at local restaurants – some noteworthy, others so-so.

Last question:  Why are professional women in the food biz marginalized in this event when women still do most of the cooking?

I understand.  If I were doing the PR and Marketing for this weekend’s Wine and Dine convention in Milwaukee, I’d feature the male chefs too.  The majority of people who will be attending this event are women.  It’s not a sex appeal thing.  It’s a credibility thing.  Male chefs have more clout and more cache than women.  Why?  Because women give it to them.

When trying to sell something, it’s understood that women aren’t as interested in other successful women.  We want to be around successful men.  We especially feel good when we have something in common with men who are perceived as successful.  Most women cook, too.  If a man does it well and cares about it, it must be worthwhile.  Those feelings sell tickets.

A more insidious reason to feature successful men is that women are hard-wired to help other people succeed.  Frequently the people we’re helping succeed are men.  We love successful men because that means we’re successful by extension – we’ve done a good job.  We dislike successful women because it means that that woman has failed in her job as a woman.  She put her dreams first or she wouldn’t be out front.  That makes us uncomfortable.  And jealous.

Yes, I’m profiling up a storm.  A huge storm with big, dark, heavy clouds.  But, that’s where you start when putting together an ad campaign.  You ask yourself what are the psychographics of your demographic?

What I’m also trying to do is understand it.  Why?  Why do we allow this?  Is it simply because we don’t think about it?

I’m not angry anymore.  But, I am confused.


Susan Scot Fry

Update… I scored a mini-victory with this post.  My husband said, “Good post”.  My husband, who does 90% of the cooking in our house and who will cast a woman anytime he gets an opportunity and who relishes strong, powerful women, liked this post.  But, with Fry, it’s construction as much as content.  Those are the hurdles when one is married to a writer.


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