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Saray Ruiz: "In the pastry business, the famous glass ceiling is a fact"

The EPGB teacher thinks that in pastry making women have become more present and visible, although the opportunities are not the same.

12 May 2021

Saray Ruiz is one of the most promising young pastry professionals. An experienced teacher at the Barcelona Pastry Trade School (EPGB), she is an expert in artistic chocolate. So much so that in 2019 she became the first woman to win the Lluís Santapau Trophy and in 2017 she was proclaimed winner of the International Contest of Chocolate Figures at the Barcelona museum.

Although the chef assures us that she is lucky enough to work in an environment in which there is no discrimination due to being a woman, she believes that opportunities in the sector are not the same for each gender and recommends that future female pastry chefs work hard and do not see any limits.

1.- How has the role of women in baking evolved in the last ten years?

I think it has evolved in the same way that society is doing; women have become more present and visible. 

But I think that this is thanks to the fact that pastry making is changing. Today there are more women than men in our classrooms and, in the end, this is also reflected in restaurants and bakeries.

2.- What challenges do women in the sector face? 3.- Do you think there are the same opportunities (salaries, positions of responsibility, recognition etc.) for women and men?

If we look at the current context in which we are living, the challenges are quite evident, despite the fact that it seems that the bakery sector is getting out of this situation relatively unscathed. 

I would like to believe that the challenges are the same for men as they are for women at this time; just finding open restaurants to work at is already a challenge. 

Sadly, I believe that, as in all sectors, the opportunities are not the same, despite the fact that many of us are “lucky” enough to enjoy equal conditions; the famous glass ceiling is a fact whether we like it or not.

3.- Do you think there is a scant presence of women at pastry congresses and events? And in contests? What do you think could be done to end female invisibility?

Realistically, yes. The presence of men is always much greater and in competitions this difference becomes much more noticeable.

The actions are arriving little by little, although I think that contests are one thing (since it is by personal choice) and congresses and events another. I honestly think that it is not about forcing parity in terms of speakers because I wouldn’t see that as fair either.

4.- What percentage of women are there in the EPGB workforce?

At EPGB there are many women; there are more male teachers, but not in a very lopsided percentage. The truth is that it varies a bit depending on the year.

5.- What tips would you give to female students looking to get into this field and become teachers like you?

The same thing that I repeat to myself every day; We have to try to be a little better than we were yesterday and try to pay a lot of attention to details, but this is something I think I say to everyone, not just to them.

I would tell them not to see the limitations either, that they may one day come across them but to ignore them and move on. Nobody gives anything away. Effort is always noted and progress happens by moving.

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

To be honest, no. I think I am lucky to work in an environment where discrimination has no place. Although I have seen it happen to female friends and colleagues.