Janine Weismann of Bouchon Bakery
March 8 is International Women’s Day, a time to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It’s also a time to recognize that there is still much work to be done in accelerating gender parity.

The food industry has been considered by many to be on the forefront of this movement, with nearly half of its entry-level workforce being comprised of women. However, not all is satisfactory, as less than one-fourth of upper level industry positions are held by women.

Retail bakeries are one area within the industry that is making great strides in increasing the representation of women. According to our 2017 Retail Bakery Operations Study, 54 percent of those surveyed were women, up from 49 percent in 2012.

The future is bright for retail bakeries thanks to these women, who are leading the way in innovation. Total industry revenue rose an estimated 7 percent from 2016, and much of that can be credited to the creativity of the industry’s strong female representation.

In Montclair, New Jersey, Montclair Bread Company owner Rachel Crampsey innovates by conducting a host of events (a spring street fair, artisan bread/donut classes, summer baking camp, annual 5K donut run) that intertwine local customers into the fabric of the community and this neighborhood bakery. Montclair Bread’s clever catchphrase, “Fueled by Doughnuts,” helps build brand exposure for this bread bakery with a donut addiction.

Rachel Crampsey of Montclair Bread Company
“With bread, you can be part of someone’s family every day, whether it’s someone’s toast in the morning or the dinner table at night. It is part of people’s daily existence,” says Crampsey.

Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery + Café is bringing a renewed commitment to whole grains at her bakery’s seven locations with the WHOLEflour line of whole grain-based cookies, brownies, scones, croissants, and more.

“Today’s consumer is knowledgeable and curious and opinionated about what they eat and put in their bodies,” Chang says. “Offering products with whole grains is hugely important. In the same way we’ve added vegan and gluten-free options to our menu, now we have whole grain items and our guests appreciate these and benefit from them.”

This forward thinking has made Joanne Chang one of the top names in baking in the country, and has put Flour Bakery + Café on the map as a premiere bakery destination.

Sunday, March 4 saw business leaders join together at the Women’s Foodservice Forum in Dallas, Texas to kick off its efforts encouraging the food industry to “Lead the Way” to gender equity. While retail bakeries still have much work to do in achieving this parity, the progress that has been made in recent years is very encouraging.