On Monday, March 8, International Women’s Day, Burger King’s UK Twitter account tweeted, “women belong in the kitchen.” The company sent a subsequent tweet adding, “If they want to, of course. Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We’re on a mission to change the gender ratio in a restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career.” A third tweet following this stated Burger King’s launching of a scholarship program to give female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career.
The object of International Women’s Day is to celebrate women’s history and empower women. The women’s suffrage movement of the 19th century and the women’s rights movement in the late 20th century sought equal rights for women, including equal employment opportunities.
Back in the day, many women had the role of being a wife and mother, and as a homemaker, they had the responsibility of providing meals for the family each day. Women across the world have fought for the ability to be hired and work to make money as men do. Phrases such as “women belong in the kitchen” are used by those against equal rights for women to perpetuate stereotypes of the woman’s role as a homemaker, making Burger King UK’s Twitter attempt at a joke unacceptable.
The fight for equal work opportunities for women is ongoing, as Burger King UK acknowledged on Twitter, tweeting the statistic “only 20% of chefs are women.” However, tweeting “women belong in the kitchen” on International Women’s Day was an insensitive jab at the day’s intention to empower women. The tweet was detrimental to many women’s psyche and the progress we have made as a society towards equality. Instead of highlighting the problem of underrepresented female chefs first, Burger King UK decided to make an outdated sexist remark which some people took seriously.
Many users who retweeted Burger King UK’s tweet did so with sexist intentions. Others used the tweet as a jumping-off point to express their opinion of how women do belong in the kitchen and not in the workplace. This tweet was used as a joke to put down women on a day designated to celebrate and empower them.
It is definitely a great idea to raise awareness about the issue of underrepresented women in the culinary field and provide scholarships to help their employees along their journey. However, Burger King UK tweeting “women belong in the kitchen” was not the way to do it. The public’s negative response to the tweet made Burger King quick to regret their choice of words.
Burger King UK took down the tweet and responded with, “We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong and we’re sorry. Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in UK kitchens are women and help to change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.”
As Burger King now realizes, sexist puns are outdated and not accepted on the internet. This incident shows how sexism is alive and well in society and still seen as okay by many, including the team who approved this tweet from Burger King UK’s Twitter account. The challenges women face in the workplace are ever-present, and the only way things will change is if women and our allies continue to speak up against harmful stereotypes such as the one presented in Burger King UK’s tweet. Every day of the year, including International Women’s Day, serves as an opportunity to stand up against the culture and history of prejudice and sexism against women and our pursuit of equality.