Maybe this should serve as a reminder to me that an interview is not the same as a personal essay.

tom_colicchio The other day I griped a little about the mundane discussion of gender in professional kitchens in Salon’s interview with Top Chef head judge Tom Colicchio. After last week’s finale, as after almost every episode, Tom published his blog about the episode. After reading what he as to say on the topic over there, I have to conclude that he Gets It – much more so than the interview led me to believe. Bad interviewer (and/or editor)!

So, mea culpa: Tom Colicchio is a feminist ally and I thank him for using his blog platform to be so publicly articulate about it. I think it would go beyond “fair use” for me to quote as much as I’d like to, so I’ll pick and choose and bold some of my favorite bits.

The bottom line is our society does not yet provide women in the workplace with the type of social supports, like high-quality subsidized child care or extended parental leave, that allows them to fully go for it, and the impact this has on the scope and depth of a career is profound.

I suppose it’s almost sad how excited I am to see Feminism 101-level suggestions being offered as part of serious discussion. My one nitpick would be to reword the first phrase to say “parents” instead of “women” because these benefits would apply to single parents of either gender, to working parents whether same- or opposite-sex, etc.

It gets even better though (more after the jump):

Right or wrong, men plunge into their careers without much thought about how they’ll navigate the work/family balance. They assume someone — spouse, parent, paid caregiver — will materialize to take care of it (and usually someone does.) This one assumption opens up an entire world of possibility to a young person in a way that can’t be overstated.

Abso-frickin-lutely. I can’t recall if I’ve ever heard anyone ask a man how he plans to “balance” career and family. Or seen a men’s magazine cover advertising an article about how to do so. It’s easy to be blind to how deeply these attitudes are ingrained. Kudos to Tom for seeing past that.

That’s why I’m glad that Top Chef is offering young people a vision of women working in their chef’s whites right alongside the men. Maybe the next generation of girls will internalize the assertion “you can be anything you want” in a whole new way, given the visual proof of seeing themselves competing — and winning — on screen.

OMG – the importance of role models – YES. Just last week on the plane there was a little girl sitting in the seat behind me asking her mom whether the captain of the plane was “a girl” this time, and she sounded so hopeful about it. My friend’s son has a laminated placemat that shows portraits of all the U.S. presidents, and he asked, “Why is it only daddies, no mommies?” This shit matters.

Just as the world won’t change for women until men (and companies and governments) change their thinking about how to create a truly equitable playing field, nor will the field change until women with families start to recognize that being a great mother and having great ambition for oneself are not mutually exclusive

Wow – calls to action all around – individual and collective. I practically got chills! Read the whole thing: http://www.bravotv.com/Top_Chef/season/4/blogs/index.php?blog=tom_colicchio&article=2008/06/a_womans_place

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