Burger King UK says its tweet on International Women's Day was misunderstood. "Women belong in the kitchen," said the Monday tweet, which has since been taken down. A followup tweet added context: "If they want to, of course. Yet only 20% of chefs are women. 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." But by then, it was too late, USA Today reports. "Please don't use sexism as clickbait," one response said. Another called it "the most sexist trope ever." Burger King UK tweeted about helping female employees "pursue their culinary dreams" through a new scholarship program, but later in the day gave it up. "We got our initial tweet wrong and we're sorry," a post then said. "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."
The original tweet was deleted because it was drawing abusive comments, the company said. A similar message in the US could not be removed. The Burger King Foundation ran a full-page ad in Monday's New York Times with the same line in large type, per the Washington Post. Below it were the words: "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 copy went on to point out that women hold just 24% of chef jobs and fewer than 7% of head chef positions. Two $25,000 scholarships will be awarded to current employees, the foundation said. A North Carolina woman who went to culinary school appreciates the thought but notes that average tuition tops $30,000. She wants companies to hire and promote more women. "I'd especially like them to all commit to paying a living wage to their employees, because that’s going to lift people up far more than a couple of scholarships," she said. (Read more Burger King stories.)