Oh, Christ. Fast-food chain, Burger King, tried to #GirlBoss gender disparity by tweeting: “Women belong in the kitchen” on International Women’s Day.
In what might be one of the funniest attempts at “feminist” marketing for International Women’s Day, Burger King’s UK division sparked global outrage on Monday after tweeting the sexist trope as a way to promote its culinary scholarship for female chefs. Needless to say, it definitely grabbed Twitter’s attention.
“We’re on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career,” the company said.
Following thousands of negative (and occasionally hilarious) responses, Burger King UK tweeted an apology and deleted the original tweet over “abusive comments.”
“It’s not something they wanted linked to the Burger King brand,” brand expert, Allen Adamson, told ABC News. “They tried to be too clever and too creative. Challenge of a tweet — it stands on its own. It’s not the beginning of a conversation, it’s usually the entire conversation.
“So, saying ‘women belong in the kitchen’ is the punch line and the headline that’s now linked to the Burger King brand.”
I think my favourite thing about the burger king thing is twitter doesn’t even necessarily show the full thread first anymore, so even when you open the thread it really does just look like a major corporation said women belong in the kitchen pic.twitter.com/u4Khu3YCz7
— Jack Saint (@LackingSaint) March 8, 2021
To make matters worse (and funnier), The Burger King Foundation, the company’s United States-based nonprofit arm, also published a full-page ad in Monday’s print edition of the New York Times.
Estimated to have cost roughly $84,900.73 (AUD), “Women belong in the kitchen” was printed in a large, bold font that took up much of the advertisement space – yikes.
“Fine dining kitchens, food truck kitchens, award-winning kitchens, casual dining kitchens, ghost kitchens, Burger King kitchens. If there’s a professional kitchen, women belong there,” the ad continued.
“But can you guess who’s leading those kitchens these days? Exactly. Only 24% of chef positions in America are occupied by women. Want to talk head chefs? The number drops to fewer than 7%.”
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 to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.
— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) March 8, 2021
The Burger King Foundation’s H.E.R. (Helping Equalize Restaurants) Scholarship has awarded more than $3 million (AUD 3,918,495.00) in scholarships in North America and will grant $25,000 (AUD 32,654.13) apiece to two current female employees.
Employees must also have plans to enrol in an accredited culinary program or university in the U.S., have a high school diploma or GED, and demonstrate substantial work experience, according to the foundation’s website.
However, while the intentions were in the right place, the delivery was well off. Amid calls on Twitter to boycott the restaurant globally, brands such as KFC even got on board, with KFC Gaming tweeting a meme in response to Burger King UK.
“The best time to delete this post was immediately after posting it. The second best time is now,” the meme read.
Why would we delete a tweet that’s drawing attention to a huge lack of female representation in our industry, we thought you’d be on board with this as well? We’ve launched a scholarship to help give more of our female employees the chance to pursue a culinary career.
— Burger King (@BurgerKingUK) March 8, 2021
In response to the backlash, Burger King spokeswoman, Adrianna Lauricella, told the Washington Post in an email that they would be adjusting their social media presence to prevent the same mistake being made twice.
“We are committed to helping women break through a male-dominated culinary culture in the world’s fine dining restaurants — and sometimes that requires drawing attention to the problem we’re trying to help fix,” Lauricella said.
“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. 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.”
Burger King when they see a woman pic.twitter.com/s33ir280sV
— Ry🐝 (@NinjaBands) March 8, 2021