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Fast Casual: 17 female execs offer advice

Published: 17 Mar 2017

From Fast Casual:

"The Femi-Nazi" was the nickname my high school boyfriend's dad "jokingly" gave me at the dinner table one night after I said his sons and daughters deserved equal treatment.

He chuckled, thinking he was hilarious. I rolled my eyes.

Although he was legitimately a nice man, a loving father and I knew he was only teasing me, I saw the amusement in his eyes. He thought my "idealism" was cute. It infuriated me. His nickname didn't offend me, but even at 17, his condescending attitude did. It was the late 1990s, not the 1920s, and I guess I expected more from him.

It wasn't the last time I was called a Femi-Nazi or heard the word "feminist" used as an insult. I'm not special; I know most career-oriented and independent women have had similar experiences. Although things are obviously much better than in the past — hey, we had our first legitimate female candidate for president — we still have a long way to go before we are equally sharing control with men.

The restaurant industry is no exception. Women still only make up only 27.3 percent of the industry's CEOs and 21.4 percent of chefs or head cooks.

The good news, however, is that the number of female-owned restaurants has increased by 40 percent in the last decade. Half of all U.S. restaurants are either owned or co-owned by women, NRA President Dawn Sweeney wrote in a recent blog. We are making headway. 

In honor of International Women's Day (March 8) I wanted to highlight some of the women who are already leading the way. I'm humbled to cover their accomplishments, whether it's as CEO, the founder of a new concept or taking a leap of faith by opening a franchise. I can't wait to see what they do next.

Laura Rea Dickey


Dickey's Barbecue

"The opportunity is there, just commit and deliver. Don't look around, look at your goal and you'll get there."

Got her start in the biz

More than 20 years ago, Dickey's first "real" job was as a hostess at Lonestar Steakhouse in high school. Her post-college career started in advertising and web design, where her first three clients were restaurants.

On why women make great leaders

"A range of perspectives enhances an outcome, so more woman taking leadership roles in the restaurant industry will continue to help evolve the business. Plus, woman are key decision makers for family dining choices, so it's a valuable perspective."

Advice to women looking to lead

"Restaurants require a relentless work ethic; so work hard, stay a little longer, do more than is required at every opportunity and you will move up."

Fast Casual: 17 female execs offer advice
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