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29 December 2023

Mercè Sampietro, "Inviting bakers to events based on gender is wrong"

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5 min.
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Mercè Sampietro believes that in this profession it is not gender that is important, but efficiency and productivity.

Mercè Sampietro studied a degree in Labour Relations, but was always attracted to the hotel and catering industry. After training in pastry at Hofmann, she travelled to San Francisco for an internship and fell in love with the complexity of bread. Back in Barcelona, she worked with Daniel Jordà and Conrad Serra until she decided to open Galette & Pastim, a small bakery in the Horta neighbourhood, in 2016.

An advocate of female talent, she is one of the creators of the Fem Pa group and says that you don't need the physical strength of a man to work in the bakery.

Interview for female personalities in the sector section with Mercè Sampietro, owner of the Galette & Pastim bakery

1.- How has the role of women in the bakery evolved over the last 10 years?

I suppose that as I don't come from a family of bakers and my contact with the sector has been in the last 10-12 years, I don't have a global vision of the evolution. What is clear is that there has been a leap from being at the entrance of the shop to being in the bakery. And that, naturally, women are present in the selection processes to work in the bakery, something that I am sure was not so natural 10 years ago; I myself perhaps saw myself out of place in the first jobs.

2.- What are the challenges facing women in the sector?

Following on from the previous question, as long as there is no generational change in the bakery workforce, women will continue to fill less physically demanding positions.

In my opinion, strength depends on the individual, I have very strong and skilful female workers who have more skill than strength, and I have had male employees who have not been able to withstand the wear and tear of carrying, so it is not a gender issue.

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

I don't think so, it SHOULD be like that. No doubt about it. In the end, it's not about gender, it's about efficiency in work and production.

4.- Do you think that there is little presence of women in bakery congresses and events, and in competitions? What actions could be taken to combat female invisibility?

Since I have been in the sector, and more and more, I think that it is not a question of there being more presence of one gender or another. The presence I want in a congress or competition is people I can learn from and want to showcase. Inviting women to events just because they are women is a mistake.

5.- You are one of the creators of Fem Pa, a group that gives visibility to women in the sector. What kind of actions are you carrying out lately?

Fem Pa emerged from a group of women bakers in Barcelona and has been spreading to Catalonia. It is a group where we share and help each other a lot, each one with her own doubts, whether they are related to management or production. I baptised it with the words 'sororitat flequera', because that's what we do, sorority among bakers. Together we have participated in the Kapital Pa in Barcelona or in the InterSICOP demonstrations. Now we don't have any action planned, but when we go to any event where we know we will coincide with some of the group, we always wear the jacket that represents us because that's how we feel.

6.- What is the percentage of women in Galette & Pastim? Are there specific positions for women or men?

Right now, 90% are women.But it's by chance, when I select staff I don't have any preferences, it's just the way it happened.There have been years when the male quota was higher, but normally the female quota dominates. In the last few years I have had men at the shop counter and I like it because it was about time that certain clichés were broken.

7.- What recommendations would you give to students who want to dedicate themselves to this profession?

Well, they should open their minds, because the world of bakery is hard and wonderful at the same time.When they study pastry and bakery courses, students, and in general female students, want to work in pastry making, that's why I say that they should open their minds, that in the end all jobs are hard, but this one can be equally or even more rewarding than baking cakes. If you are a curious person, bread is not a certain science, you have to be analysing factors on a daily basis to be able to produce a stable product.

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

Yes, I won't deny it.It's not easy to start with old-school colleagues and this gives me bittersweet memories of my first jobs.But there is something positive to take from everything, and that is that they made me stronger and more resilient, and I was able to start my own business.