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Natalia Ramirez: "It's time for women to be given space to inherit businesses or start from scratch

The Colombian ice cream maker encourages future female professionals not to be afraid to shine in mainly male environments.

04 Feb 2022

Natalia Ramirez, who will give a presentation dedicated to veganism at InterSICOP 2022, opened Selvática in 2018, an ice cream parlor in Barcelona where she is committed to reducing the levels of fat and sweetness, and is constantly expanding the vegan offer.

This Colombian chef studied bakery and pastry at the Mariano Moreno Culinary Institute and developed as a pastry chef at the Cielo restaurant, also in Bogota. Later, she decided to move to Barcelona to study pastry at EspaiSucre. And with the desire to continue training, she learned ice cream formulation at the Carpigiani Gelato University and completed the master's degree in chocolate at the EPGB and the B-Concept course by Jordi Bordas.

1.- What are the challenges faced by women in the sector?

I am a foreigner, and my parents were entrepreneurs together when they were young. They had a company for 30 years and my mother had an important leadership role both in the workplace and in the family, so I grew up with an example of female entrepreneurship and leadership that now, although I have been living in Spain for almost 10 years, makes me have a point of view that is perhaps a little different from that of a woman who has spent her life in the sector, with other types of examples.

What I have been able to see is that the ice cream industry in Spain is a trade that is traditionally passed from parents to children and then to grandchildren. I see that the family trajectory is highly valued and that it generally falls on the male side of the family. And, although I understand that it is a trade that sometimes involves handling heavy objects, I think it is time that women are given the opportunity to inherit businesses or start from scratch, because what I do see clearly is that we are fewer and less represented. Just look at the contest participants or the most renowned ice cream makers in the country. Almost all of them are men.

2.- Do you think there are the same opportunities (salaries, positions of responsibility, recognition...) for women and men?

My experience working for others is not in the ice cream sector, but in kitchens, so I can only speak from my experience as an entrepreneur and team leader, and in my team, it doesn't matter if you are a man or a woman, what matters is the quality of work and human quality.

3.- You say that there is little presence of women in ice cream congresses and competitions. What actions could be taken to combat female invisibility?

Obviously, the female presence is lower in this type of events, but in this case, I redirect the question to the organizers: What is the priority when choosing the participants? Why do you always see the same faces?

4.- What is the percentage of women in Selvática's staff? Are there specific positions for women or men?

Both men and women have worked at Selvática. Now, there are two permanent people working with me, a woman in charge of the bakery and a man in charge of the store. Both and the other workers have been chosen for their skills, not for their gender.

5.- What recommendations would you give to female students who want to dedicate themselves to this trade?

I would encourage them to work to combat the fear that we women often have of shining in mainly male environments, because part of the responsibility lies with the system, but if spaces are opened and we women are not encouraged to participate, things will be difficult to change. 

I would also recommend that they do sports. The physical demands of the job are real and having good physical health can be a determining factor in their performance. 

6.- Have you experienced any discrimination in your profession because you are a woman?

In kitchens I have mainly experienced harassment. In my entrepreneurial process, I have sometimes felt that I was not always taken seriously, mainly by suppliers or contractors, who seemed to think that a young woman could not be serious about her project.