Women in the Meat Industry

When she was 16 years old, iO Soucy became a butcher at Sparrow Meat Market. She thought of it as a growing experience and improved her skills over time.

“It was definitely challenging at first, but you eventually memorize everything and it gets a little bit easier as time goes on,” Soucy said.

Soucy now works as a butcher at Whole Foods. She gets to work at about 5 a.m. and instantly begins preparing the meat, setting up dishes and moving boxes to get ready for the day.

Even though Soucy enjoys working and is proud to be a female butcher, she still experiences various forms of discrimination on a daily basis: from comments about what she is wearing to inappropriate sexual remarks. Soucy has mentioned it to the company, but there isn’t much that can be done to prevent the horrible commentary.

Soucy has asked her male coworkers if they have experienced the same level of disrespect from clients and other employees, but all have responded that they’ve barely experienced any.

“It’s just like ‘okay cool, that’s really great to hear,’ but obviously it’s just flat out unfair,” Soucy said.

During one of Soucy’s shifts, she was in charge and simultaneously training a couple of new employees. The people she was training were all male, taller and bigger than her. One of the few trainees approached her with a question about how to cook a certain kind of meat.

“I started explaining, but he cut me off saying that he didn’t want to hear it from me and that I needed to find someone who knew more about what they were talking about,” Soucy said.

Clearly baffled, Soucy responded saying that she was the person in charge and knew what she was talking about. The trainee continued to ask for someone else, stating that she didn’t understand what he meant and that she was just a small, inexperienced girl.

“Thinking about it just grinds my gears,” Soucy said. “After dealing with the situation, I went into the backroom and punched a couple [of] boxes because I was so furious.”

Soucy has learned to be more stubborn and make it apparent that she is not someone to be pushed around. She makes sure that she shows up everyday to work with a confident attitude rooted in a knowledge of her experience and worthiness of her position. She hopes that young girls will see her attitude and that will inspire them to push past the boundaries and expectations.

Even though Soucy’s job is tough at times, she cannot stress enough that nobody’s opinions matter if you are doing what needs to be done.

“Female butchers aren’t a super common thing now, but I would say just go for it,” Soucy said. “It is definitely something to brag about and something to be proud of.”