Food For Thought

Gals Who Grill: What Will It Take For Women To Man The Q?

Ladies, why are we letting the menfolk dominate the grilling?

hide captionLadies, why are we letting the menfolk dominate the grilling?

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There's a lot of innovation in grilling — everything from fancy briquettes to gadgets that help grill veggies to perfection.

But according to survey data from the NPD Group, one thing that's not changing is who's firing up the grill.

Men are more than twice as likely as women to be the primary griller in the household, according to the survey. Only 19 percent of households report that it's women who are taking charge of grill duties.

And statistically, that hasn't budged since the group started collecting data on this topic a few decades ago.

The grill "is the one and only male-dominated appliance in America," says Harry Balzer of NPD Group. One reason? Grilling can feel like a form of recreation.

"Grilling is awesome," my colleague Uri Berliner told me over a casual water-cooler chat. "All you have to do is stand there and drink beer while you watch the meat cook."

So are gender roles fixed in stone when it comes to grilling? Not necessarily. There's evidence that women are increasingly taking an interest.

Craig Goldwyn (aka Meathead) of the site AmazingRibs.com says 40 percent of the people who visit his site are women.

And Elizabeth Karmel of GirlsAtTheGrill.com sees a shift, too. She acknowledges that grilling is still male-dominated, but "I think it's changing," she told me by phone.

As a female grilling enthusiast, she says her goal is not to push men out of the way, "but rather for women to share in the fun."

So what leads women to the grill, especially if it's a job they had previously ceded to the men in the house?

Well, Karmel says, oftentimes for women it's the realization that they've already done a lot of the time-consuming work, including shopping for the meat and prepping it.

So actually putting it on the grill? "It's just the last step," Karmel says. And grilling it yourself can add the quality control to ensure it doesn't get burned or dried out (if the man in your house is prone to that sort of negligence).

"A lot of women have come up to me and told me that" kind of story, she says. And when they step into the role of grilling, "they love the positive reinforcement."

And meat is just the beginning. These days, there's grilled fruit and pizza, not to mention veggies.

Take asparagus: The grill, Karmel says, takes this veggie that your mom wanted you to eat and turns it into something that you can't stop eating.

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