Sophie Braker, test baker at Zeelandia, asks why, despite women accounting for the majority of bakery students, men account for such a large proportion of the industry
It has become obvious in recent years that the conversation about gender equality at work has changed in tone, and more is expected of businesses. It is a change happening in every industry, so why does bakery remain so male-dominated?
One reason could be that good change takes time. While steps are being made in the right direction, it feels like the change is stalling. Businesses need to take a firm stance on gender equality and make it known they support the women they employ.
Moreover, this must be about more than generating positive public relations, for businesses need to be aware that failure to offer support could lead to the new generation of female bakers turning their backs on a potential employer, customer or client.
The admission of bakery students to various colleges would argue against the idea that bakery is male-dominated as women make up the majority of students in many classes. This, of course, begs the question: where are the women in industry roles?
In my experience, I benefited hugely from having female mentors and role models, whom I could look to for advice and support as I entered the industry. This could be the key to promoting young women within baking, but not all students are given that support, and they aren’t all in touch with women working in industry. This needs to change – whatever path a baker chooses to take, women supporting women is invaluable.
Organisations such as the Alliance for Bakery Students & Trainees (ABST) are working to empower young bakers and to educate both men and women about what they can do to create a more equal workplace in the future.
There is, of course, already a lot to be said about how far women have come in the baking industry.
Even though there is room for improvement, the women in baking are here and they are unapologetic. They will stand their ground and show their skills and not be afraid to do so. They are loyal to each other and are some of the most supportive around– it’s almost as if there is an unspoken agreement and that they are all working together to a common goal.
In this, there is hope for a more equal workplace in the future, but there must be a focus on support and empowerment. Not only for the sake of the future generation of female bakers, but also to keep bakery moving forward as an industry.