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No Women Allowed? Why Men Served Lunch at Nuclear Summit

Image: World Leaders Gather For Nuclear Security Summit 2014
Waiters prepare the plenary table during a break at the 2014 Nuclear Security Summit on March 25, 2014 in The Hague, Netherlands. Bart Maat / Pool via Getty Images

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- It was just a little thing that the Dutch media noticed: all the people serving lunch to the world leaders at the Nuclear Security Summit on Tuesday were men. Then it was picked up by the British newspaper the Independent.

Turns out it wasn’t an accident.

According to Daphne Kerremans, the spokesperson for the Nuclear Security summit, the NSS requested two things of the company that catered the event:

  • The servers had to be experienced and older than 25
  • And they all needed to be of one sex and wear the same uniform.

Van der Linde Catering took full responsibility for the decision to go with all men and the owner tweeted an inside look at their cadre of male servers.

Owner Hans Van der Linde told NBC News that male servers “had an additional practical advantage” because unhindered by aprons, they would “find it easier to navigate the stairs while carrying plates.”

Van der Linde stressed that while the servers were all men, the larger event team was co-ed. The spokesperson for the NSS said, “Both men and women are working here for us, and working very hard."

Michelle Perry contributed to this report.