Media Images and the Gendered Representation of Chefs
Chen, B; McIntosh, AJ; Harris, C; Goodsir, W
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Images portrayed in online media may influence societal perceptions of chefs, with the potential to perpetuate gender segregation in the professional kitchen. Little scholarly attention in previous research has been given to the examination of gender and images in hospitality media. This article aims to fill that gap through an exploration of how online hospitality media may socially construct the gendered nature of the chef profession. The visual research method — the use of images to learn about the social world — was used to analyse 315 images collected from lifestyle magazines accessed online, food event websites, hospitality and restaurant industry-related websites, cookbooks and cooking equipment websites in New Zealand. Specifically, images depicting male and female chefs were sourced and analysed in relation to their gender representation. The findings revealed a marked difference between the portrayed images of male and female chefs. Not only did female chefs feature less frequently in the images, they were also predominantly portrayed in more domestic settings, with feminine aspects emphasised. The potential implications of these results are discussed, including the reinforcement of gender stereotypes underpinning segregation in the chef profession.