Burger King’s ‘women belong in the kitchen’ tweet, meant to critique the male-dominated cooking industry, receives backlash on International Women’s Day

Burger King
A Burger King in Los Angeles. AP
  • Burger King tweeted “women belong in the kitchen” to promote its new scholarship for female chefs.
  • The restaurant said it was a “mistake” to not include the entirety of the new initiative in its first tweet.
  • Some on social media said the messaging was tone-deaf and vowed to not eat at the restaurant.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

A tweet from Burger King UK that said “women belong in the kitchen” was criticized on the social-media site on Monday, International Women’s Day.

-Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) March 8, 2021

The messaging wasn’t the work of a social-media manager gone rogue – it was tied to the chain’s launch on Monday of an initiative to help increase the number of women in head-chef roles. But it struck people on Twitter and Facebook the wrong way.

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Some described the tweet as tone-deaf on a day meant to celebrate women. Others said they wouldn’t eat at the restaurant anymore. And others joked about the fast-food chain’s marketing team thinking the message would be a good idea.

A Twitter account associated with KFC said Burger King should have deleted the tweet after sending it. “Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry,” Burger King replied.

-KFC Gaming (@kfcgaming) March 8, 2021

Gender stereotypes are still alive. A 2016 study found that people were even more likely than 30 years earlier to believe in gender roles such as that women cook and clean.

“Burger King belongs in a trashcan,” Chelsea Peretti, a comedian and actress from “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” tweeted in response to Burger King. Still, the Burger King UK account added 10,000 followers on Monday.

Many people on Facebook reacted with the laughing emoji. Several commenters criticized those who didn’t find it funny, while others said there should have been a better way to promote the new initiative.

“Our tweet in the UK today was designed to draw attention to the fact that only a small percentage of chefs and head chefs are women,” a Burger King spokesperson said in an emailed statement to Insider. “It was our mistake to not include the full explanation in our initial tweet and have adjusted our activity moving forward because we’re sure that when people read the entirety of our commitment, they will share our belief in this important opportunity.”

In a separate statement, Global Chief Marketing Officer Fer Machado tweeted the company is “indeed sorry” about how the tweet came across, adding that “The intention behind the activity is actually good.”

Burger King echoed its “women belong in the kitchen” messaging in an ad and a press release, adding that women “belong in fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, BK Restaurant kitchens, award-winning kitchens, casual dining kitchens, and ghost kitchens.”

The fast-food chain said it was creating the Burger King Helping Equalize Restaurants, or HER, scholarship to support employees pursue a degree in culinary arts. “This is a start in doing our small part to help women in the culinary field achieve their ultimate goal,” the company said in the press release, adding that women occupy only 7% of head-chef positions in restaurants.

Statistics from the US Labor Department have indicated that while more than half of culinary graduates are women, only about 20% of working chefs are women. The median pay for a chef was about $US51,000 ($66,615) in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.