Critical Hospitality Symposium, Critical Hospitality Symposium II: Hospitality IS Society

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Gender metaphors in visual images of chefs
Beverly Chen, Alison McIntosh, Candice Harris, Warren Goodsir

Last modified: 2018-07-02


Although the popularity of gastronomic media platforms has drawn increased public attention to the world of cooking, it is argued that the media shapes male and female chefs differently (Druckman, 2010; Johnston et al., 2014; Lindeman, 2016; Madichie, 2013). Media often portrays male chefs as masculine, professional, intellectual and technically talented; while female chefs are feminine, warm, and caring domestic home cooks (Agg, 2015; Lindeman, 2016). Importantly, the images presented in the media influence public perceptions of male and female chefs and may perpetuate gender segregation in the kitchen. Indeed, male chefs continue to dominate the top of the hierarchy, while female chefs remain at the bottom (Matwick, 2017). Far too little attention has been paid to the gender metaphors in the media, and how these metaphors socially construct the role of chefs. Although previous studies have examined the language and gender attributes of male and female chefs in cookbooks (e.g. Johnston et al., 2014; Matwick, 2017), no single study exists that has examined the gender metaphors of chefs portrayed in media images.

This research aims to fill this gap by examining the metaphors of gender portrayed in photographs published in the media and how they socially construct the role of male and female chefs. Visual research, which entails the use of images to learn about the social world (Patton, 2002), will be applied as the research method. Photographs will be collected from cookbooks, magazines, and other mainstream media platforms in New Zealand, for example the Metro Magazine, and the VIVA magazine. Harrison (2002) considers the photograph a form of storytelling, exploring narrative, and providing insight into identity construction. In contributing to a better understanding of gender metaphors in the media, especially photographs of people at work in a specific context, and the potential impact of these metaphors on the existing gender segregation in the occupation, this paper discusses implications to shape or re-shape public’s perception towards male and female chefs.



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