Women In Hospitality United was cofounded in 2017 in response to the sudden, painful #metoo and #timesup reckoning that spotlighted sexual harassment and assault in the industry. “There’s kind of a history of abuse and having to prove yourself in kitchens,” Erin Fairbanks, one of the founders explained. “When I was cooking, part of that was very thrilling: ‘I can do this; I’m a tough chick.’ You kind of buy into the narrative of your oppression.”
Women in positions of power in the kitchen are often questioned for their choices. “There’s an element of guilt associated with women in kitchen positions in a way that there isn’t with men,” Berg explained. “She needs to explain and rationalize how she has chosen this career, which is arguably physically demanding, [with] really long hours, unconventional hours.” Queer women setting foot in the culinary world often find themselves in “no man’s land,” Berg explained. They’re often excluded from pastry work, but still discriminated against for being female in the realm of executive chefs.