Over at Newark-based Hatherley Commercial Services, MD Kirstin Hatherley believes: “There is a definite lack of women; you only have to look round at an industry meeting or conference to see how huge the difference is. The industry is very male-led and is vulnerable to stereotypes, which can make it more difficult for women to excel.”
Hatherley feels that this male domination could make the sector daunting for some, adding: “The catering equipment industry is a strange one. It’s not really something you would consider going into straight from leaving education – people tend to fall into it, be it into a family business or deviating from another similar industry.
“I think the catering equipment sales sector has derived from men coming through from an engineering or chef background, and these are also male-dominated industries.”
However, she doesn’t feel there is a particularly obvious bias in the industry, but acknowledged that “there may still be a selective few ‘old timers’ that still have an old fashioned view”.
She believes that if more women joined the sector there would be economic benefits of gender diversity, and it would be more competitive and sustainable in the long term. “More women in the sector will inject a different type of energy and lift it into a new era,” she said.
Hatherley concluded: “I think the number of women will naturally increase gradually with new generations joining, following the introduction of educational courses and skill development opportunities. As more women enter more senior positions, this will create role models and a positive perception of the industry, making it more attractive to women in the future.”
For Dawn Cheetham and Diane Moden, directors of dealer Commercial Kitchen Service in Blackpool, it shouldn’t matter whether you’re male or female. “Neither of us have ever been advocates of discrimination – positive or negative,” detailed Cheetham. “There are successful women employed in senior positions throughout industry but if our situation is anything to go by the rewards come through hard work, commitment and dedication. Conditions could be improved but cannot and should not be manipulated into a clear route for any one particular group or sector.”