For the First Time Ever the Culinary Institute of America Has More Female Than Male Students

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

culinary institute of america
Photo: © CIA / Keith Ferris

On International Women's Day – an event adopted by the UN in 1975 to recognize the women's rights movement – the culinary world has taken notice. Some women have chosen to strike in a manner similar to the A Day Without Immigrants protest. Others have decided to donate restaurant profits to women's causes or 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: In 2017, Eater reported that for the first time ever, the Culinary Institute of America's main campus in Hyde Park, New York, had more female students than male students enrolled at the school.

Reached for specifics, CIA said that, yes, as of October 2016, its student body was 51.6% female, a tip of the scales from 49.9% female the year before. In fact, the school's female enrollment had 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% female for those who prefer cooking over math.) By 1980, the percentage of female students had only grown to 21.3%. And even by 2004, only just over a third of those attending the college were women. But finally, the tides turned.

The numbers are just as much a reflection of the population as they are a seismic shift. In the 2010 Census, 50.8% of the U.S. 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.

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