Butchery is one of the UK’s oldest, proudest – and most
male-dominated professions, with one recent estimate claiming that less than 1%
of working butchers are female. Recent years, however, have seen a slight
change in the skewed gender balance, with media outlets highlighting more and
more women being called to the butchers block. Perhaps the most high profile
case is Charlotte Harbottle, who has drawn a Twitter and blog following as thegirlbutcher, and who made
headlines in 2013 when she became one of the first women in the country to open
her own butchers shop.
Dovecote Park began with just 11 butchers in 1997 and has
since expanded to over 80 staff on knife, out of a total of over 150 people in
the boning hall. However, until very recently, the company had never employed a
‘No one ever applied’
says Carl Hullah, Assistant Boning
Hall Manager. ‘Women just didn’t seem to want to do it, but now things are changing
and we hope to see more and more girls picking up the knife!!’
In 2014, Carl began to train the boning halls first three ‘knifewomen’,
two of whom continue to work for us now.
Murray moved into the department from retail last year, and has worked
predominantly on VL, trimming off-cuts to be used for mince and burgers.
‘I’ve done butchery
for about six months now’ she says, ‘I
used to work in the retail department, and I wanted to further my career, so I
asked to come in here. Now I’m learning all the different things so I can
progress in here’.
are surprised – they say, ‘Wow, you’re a butcher? Not many girls do that!!’
Men can’t be the only ones who do
butchery - women can do whatever men can do. My favourite bit about it is just
learning and getting into it – trimming fat off, how you can hang the beef, and
all the different cuts.’
Katie Allport began
to train as a butcher after previously working in the boning hall as a processing
operative. She has worked on the knife for 7 months, mainly on the flank line,
cutting and trimming product for third party specifications, and has helped to
train new butchers in the department.
‘I’d never really seen
a woman do it - I wanted to do it
because you can move further and further up the ladder, it’s a profession. I want
to keep moving up – I want to be top butcher. I don’t know why more women don’t
do it – I guess some are put off by it, by the knives, but I don’t mind!’
Over in production, Jodie
Chitoriski is the teams only female retail butcher, having moved onto the
knife after an initial stint working in the burger room.
‘I went into butchery from there because I wanted to try something new,' she says, 'and I love it, I wouldn’t change it! You do get a shocked reaction from people
– they always want to know, ‘Is it
bloody?’, ‘Are you the only woman who
works there?’ I think I can do it just as well as any men can do.’
I’d like to progress
myself, and become just as good as the team leaders– I can definitely see myself
in butchery for a long time.’