Whether it’s in the corporate world or small independent businesses, career development and advancement opportunities for women have come a long way, but are yet to be at their potential.
As noted from a Statistics Canada publication, “even in industries dominated by the opposite sex, women and men tend to occupy distinct occupations, with women’s typically being at lower levels than men’s.”
This is perhaps most visible in the accommodations and food service industry, where according to the same publication with numbers from 2015, 59.7% of chefs and cooks were men, “while 71.6% of food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related support personnel were women, as were 71.3% of food and beverage servers.”
To help all the talented women in the food industry gain access to more opportunities and experiences, and give them the tools to face unique challenges, Women Chefs and Restaurateurs is hosting a one-day educational conference in Calgary on September 16, 2017.
Since 1993, WCR has been helping women in the industry across different occupations--chefs, bartenders, restaurateurs, food producers, managers, to name a few--attain the connections, education and inspiration they need to take control and get to the next level of their careers.
Considering there are roughly 699,900 women who work in accommodations and food service industry in Canada, compared to 512, 800 men (in 2016), WCR’s initiatives can have an important impact in our communities.
Celebrated chef Elizabeth Falkner, who has served on the board for eight years, is one of the women who has benefitted from the organization firsthand, being inspired by women like Barbara Tropp, who established WCR.
For this conference in Calgary, Falkner will be presenting on the topic of reinventing yourself after disruption, one she is no stranger to, having been a chef and operator for many restaurants in San Francisco and New York, as well as a frequent competitor and judge on various food television shows.
“I’ve probably been to 12 conferences all together over the years, and I feel that people always get a sense of unity together. All that camaraderie is really special,” says Falkner.
Not only is WCR’s conference an invaluable learning experience for women on the service side of the industry, it also offers unique perspective and stories from women in the production and manufacturing side of the food industry.
“There’s always current topics going on, and food from whatever region we’re in. I think people just feel empowered after leaving a women’s conference, just a lot of culinary energy, being around a bunch of chefs, wine experts and people in the hospitality industry. I feel like people just walk away feeling like they’re not doing this alone, that even if they’re having harder times or better times, or whatever, you get this sense of camaraderie more than anything.”
Far from a gimmicky how-to guide for climbing up the ranks in a traditionally male-dominated industry, the event and organization is about the recognition of all the challenges that women in the industry face, providing support and building connections that fuel the creativity and talent among the members.
“I think the biggest gap is always in the financial side, and it’s not just in this business, it’s women getting financed in their endeavours,” says Falkner.
“The thing I like about the restaurant industry so much is that it requires a certain kind of person who really goes above and beyond expectations and stands out because of that. You can surprise people, you can make somebody’s day, you can change somebody’s emotions in the course of a dinner or lunch.”
For tickets, visit the event's Eventbrite page.