Gender Issues

, Volume 27, Issue 1–2, pp 27–52 | Cite as

“The Price You Pay”: How Female Professional Chefs Negotiate Work and Family

  • Deborah A. HarrisEmail author
  • Patti Giuffre
Original Article


Work–family conflict can act as an important, and gendered, mechanism underlying women’s under-representation in male-dominated occupations. This study uses in-depth interviews to explore the experiences of female professional chefs in order to understand how women in a prestigious, yet male-dominated service occupation manage barriers relating to their balance of work and family responsibilities. Conflict between work and family responsibilities often stemmed from the long work hours expected of chefs and played a role in some of our participant’s decisions to leave kitchen work. Respondents in this study negotiate work–family conflict using three strategies: (1) delaying/forgoing childbearing to succeed as a chef; (2) leaving kitchen work for another job in the culinary field; and (3) adapting either work or family to make the two roles more compatible. Our conclusion discusses the implications of these strategies for gender inequality in the workplace, particularly for women in male-dominated occupations.


Gender Work–family conflict Male-dominated occupations Chefs 



We would like to thank Kyong Hee Chee and Gretchen Webber for their useful comments on previous versions of this paper. We would also like to thank Rita Simon, Joyce Coninx-Wright, and the anonymous reviewers for their suggestions.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyTexas State University—San MarcosSan MarcosUSA

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