Since its inception in 1919, KitchenAid has been a brand built by women that stands for creating possibility in the kitchen.
Women helped name the brand, they sold the products door to door and in 1949 the first KitchenAid® dishwasher – inspired by the vision and designs of a woman from Ohio named Josephine Cochrane – was introduced to the public for the first time. It’s only fitting then that a brand that owes much of its success to women is behind the documentary short, “A Woman’s Place,” currently streaming on-demand on Hulu.
OFFICE OF U.S. LABOR STATISTICS, 2013 STUDY
The film, directed by Academy Award winning storyteller, Rayka Zehtabchi, was in part inspired by a concerning stat from a 2013 study by the Office of U.S. Labor Statistics which found that despite women accounting for 50% of culinary school graduates, they hold only 7% of the executive chef roles in the United States. Over the last century women have made incredible contributions to the culinary arts but they have sadly struggled to make it in professional kitchens due to unfair bias. Acutely aware of the important role women have played not only in the culinary industry at large but also in their own company, KitchenAid found it impossible to stand idly by as these inequalities in professional kitchens continued to smolder and perpetuate. They were determined to bring awareness to these barriers and biases and engender action – this led to their partnership with Vox Creative on this project.
A WOMAN’S PLACE IS IN EVERY KITCHEN
KitchenAid found it deeply concerning that for far too long society has pushed the notion that women should be domestic cooks in the home but not professionals in the culinary industry. Their goal was to use the title of the film to provoke the tension that exists between women in the home versus women in the professional kitchen. The team behind the film was intent on flipping the “woman’s place” phrase on its head – reclaiming this outworn idea – allowing women to reimagine and determine where their “place” is for themselves.
The documentary format was chosen because it’s the most direct way to profile the obstacles women who are in the midst of this current struggle face and it lends itself to creating meaningful and resonant connections with the audience. Because consumers are leaning on streaming platforms now more than ever for information and entertainment the goal of creating buzz and awareness could easily be fulfilled through a streaming partnership. Hulu subscribers can visit the “Women’s Equality” collection to watch the film and others like it.
Karyn Tomlinson, the Restaurateur
“A Woman’s Place” provides an intimate look at the biases and barriers women face in the culinary industry through the personal stories of three inspiring chefs who want change not just for themselves but for the industry as a whole. It follows a restaurateur, a chef de cuisine, and a butcher who all have struggled with overcoming, in one way or another, the notion that they were just “something pretty to look at in the kitchen” as Chef de Cuisine of the Ramen Shop, Marielle Fabie, puts it. Karyn Tomlinson, a restaurateur in the Twin Cities reflects on her journey which began with the early realization that food was the thing that connected generations at her grandmother’s table; she says “…I guess I feel a sense of responsibility to show other women they can bring their femininity to the table. And that’s actually a strength – not a weakness…” These three determined women, and more like them, represent the future of culinary; judging from “A Woman’s Place,” it looks like that future is in good, strong – calloused – hands.
POSSIBILITIES THROUGH PARTNERSHIP
To really help overcome gender inequality in professional kitchens, KitchenAid has joined forces with the James Beard Foundation (JBF), a long-standing supporter of women in culinary. Through the James Beard Foundation Mentorship, KitchenAid will provide critical support and resources to women with educational tools and mentorship designed to help women build and grow their business.