Burger King's attempt to highlight gender disparity in the restaurant industry with a provocative tweet appears to have backfired.
On Monday, which is also International Women's Day, the Twitter account for Burger King UK tweeted "Women belong in the kitchen."
In a series of subsequent threaded tweets, the fast food giant pointed out the lack of female chefs in the restaurant business.
"If they want to, of course," reads a follow-up from Burger King UK. "Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We're on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career."
The chain then highlighted its new scholarship program for female employees to "pursue their culinary dreams!" But later in the day, Burger King UK, before deleting the tweet, tweeted an apology: "We got our initial tweet wrong and we're sorry. Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in UK kitchens are women and to help change that by awarding culinary scholarships."
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That initial tweet left Twitter users grilling the fast food chain. "Please don't use sexism as clickbait," wrote user @BeccaBeckery.
Twitter user @snarkgrapefruit echoed similar concerns. "There’s better ways to draw attention to something that don’t including using the most sexist trope ever."
Initially, the Burger King UK account seemed to defend its campaign in replies to users. When a user called the company's tweet "weird," Burger King UK responded: "We think it's weird that women make up only 20% of chefs in the UK restaurant industry."
In its apology tweet, Burger King UK said, "We hear you. ... We will do better next time."
Subsequently, the account deleted the original tweet, too, saying, "It was brought to our attention that there were abusive comments in the thread and we don't want to leave the space open for that."
Follow Brett Molina on Twitter: @brettmolina23.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Burger King UK under fire for 'women belong in the kitchen' tweet