© CIA / Keith Ferris

The first year the school was open only a single woman was enrolled.

Mike Pomranz
March 08, 2017

Today is International Women’s Day – an event adopted by the UN in 1975 to recognize the women’s rights movement – and the culinary world has taken notice. Some women have chosen to strike in a manner similar to last month’s A Day Without Immigrants protest. Others have decided to donate restaurant profits to women’s causes or, as we rounded up earlier today, found their own individual ways to honor the occasion.

But here’s another telling sign of the continuing impact of women in the food world: Earlier today Eater reported, for the first time ever, the Culinary Institute of America’s main campus in Hyde Park, New York, has more female students than male students enrolled at the school.

Reached for specifics, CIA said that, yes, as of October 2016, the most recent enrollment data available, its student body is 51.6 percent female, a tip of the scales from 49.9 percent female the year before. In fact, the school’s female enrollment has been growing steady since the college opened back in 1946 – when just one woman was stuck in a very testosterone-heavy class of 50. (That’s just 2 percent female for those who prefer cooking over math.) By 1980, the percentage of female student had only grown to 21.3 percent. And even by 2004, only just over a third of those attending the college were women. But finally, the tides have turned.

However, the current numbers are just as much a reflection of the population as they are a seismic shift. In the 2010 Census, 50.8 percent of the US population was female, so it would seem as if 2016’s enrollment simply more accurately reflects America’s numbers more broadly. But as we’ve seen in many male dominated industries, it often takes quite a while for the balancing to take place if and when it finally does.