Tamper Tantrum Live: Gwilym (Susan) Davies

Another talk posted – and this one on a different subject. If you can look past the lipstick (I know, I know – is that even possible) there is a question we need to answer. Not for the sake of forced and awkward equality but instead to make sure we’re drawing and benefitting from the widest possible talent pool and, as an industry, being driven forward as hard as we can.

The dress aside, I think he makes a good point.


8 Comments Tamper Tantrum Live: Gwilym (Susan) Davies

  1. Lalo

    Is it really a question that needs answer? I think rather if we can see the that there is a lack of input from a group of people that we know can be of benefit, why not find ways to encourage their participation?

  2. Sarah Dooley

    I have more input on this topic then time at the moment so starting with some initial thoughts that  will gain in explanation later today:

    gender pay gap
    gender differences in perceived pay entitlement
    negotiating mentality
    the bully’s in the work place

    I’ve never been a women’s liberation advocate until recently and only in a small sense of the word.  Equality has many barriers to cross and there are a lot of historical facts to back up that statement. 

    Sorry to start this with out a finished thought but I haven’t got time to blog this morning. 

    Serious topic.

  3. coffeehorse

    re: the last question, I feel baristas new to competition should be getting support from experienced baristas – there used to be an “I’ve won the nationals and had my go at the worlds, I’ll retire and support new talent coming through” thing in Australia which was really beautiful to watch. Since being involved on the other side of the table to competitors, I’ve really noticed the profusion of girls “giving it a go” with an attitude that suggests lack of ‘shop support’ – a couple of local comps have been 70% female and that’s been awesome. Having said that, the guys at those comps took out the top couple of places, knowing far more about coffee.

    Perhaps there’s an element of it that girls are generally better at having social skills and multiple, varied interests, while barista competitions let blokes put everything they’ve practiced in solitude (OCD, geekery) and combine it with the show pony/boaster role they’ve developed at bars and pubs. 

  4. Hadassah Grace

    Thank you for this. I realize I’m a little late to the party, but I started to write out my reply, and it got so very long that I had to start an entire blog to contain it. I would really appreciate any feedback or discussion you might have about what I’ve written. The subject of why women are excluded from certain things, or why the coffee industry is male-dominated is an important one, but it’s also very complex.
    http://hadassahgrace.tumblr.com/ Here's the link.

  5. Lauren Thu

     I just watched this a couple weeks ago, and since I was practicing for nationals I figured I would wait until I made it through before commenting. I came 8th in Canada on my first try! Whoohoo! (Okay sorry had to get that out. Still fresh.)

    I agree with Gwylim that the community behind the bar is definitely not represented in competition, but I think those pub nights, those little geek outs while the shop’s quiet – a lot of the time it feels like a boy club… and I usually find myself the only female there.

    Now that said, in no way do I feel lower than them in knowledge, I don’t feel excluded and I don’t feel like someone is dismissing what I have to say just because I’m a woman. Maybe I just roll with a good crew, but from my experience in coffee, it’s one of the most accepting industries, whether you’re male, female, gay, straight, black, white, whatever. If you love coffee, you want to be with people who love coffee, and there your love can grow! Especially when so many great coffee minds come together. 

    In that way I could see it being intimidating to a female who has interest in coffee because a lot of knowledge comes from who you know. It’s hard to talk shop with the boys if they start talking about TDS and Refractometers and you have no idea what any of that means. No one wants to feel stupid and maybe that’s what keeps some women from competition, there’s so many brew methods, so many ways to do each brew method, so much jargon and things that would be so overwhelming to someone who just wants to learn. As much as it really shouldn’t matter, when you’re already the odd one out for being a woman, sticking your head up in an intense debate over who’s sig drink was better and asking “what’s cascara?” isn’t the easiest thing to do, it takes guts. 

    Maybe I have an advantage because I embarrass myself so often I don’t even realize that I’m doing it anymore,  I’ve asked so many questions over the years that now I can answer people that are in my old shoes. Training is one of my favourite things to do because it’s where the passion begins and I always try to tell everyone – male or female – that nothing you can ask hasn’t been asked before, and the more you question the more you’ll know and understand. 

    I was the only woman in the Western Regionals and the Canadian Nationals. Half of the judges were women though (Including the final round head judge) and they all had great input and criticism at the end. I wonder if these women realize how big of an impact it would make if they would compete? Maybe some women just gain all of this knowledge and don’t see the point of competition?

    I don’t know – just food for thought on my experiences competing for the first time this year. (Maybe I’ll add to this when I compete again next year!)

    -Lauren Thu

  6. Melody Lu

    I feel the question is not completely — or correctly — addressed by being more aware of whether a barista is male or female; it’s whether one is interested or not.

    What does being a competitor mean for each of us? On a personal level,
    what is to be gained and at what cost in life that a passion for coffee

    The recent Canadian Nationals saw a quite balanced group of participants in the organizing body. Amber Fox and Andrea Piccolo were two of the three head judges (the other was Mike Strumpf), while half of the rotating panel and volunteers was consisted of females. They are knowledgeable and experienced, most definitely important for the functioning of these initiatives; the way I see it, they are not necessarily inspired to be recognized in the limelight. Gender may provide an inclination, but ultimately, everyone is compelled by their own personal goals.

    I don’t know if we should dwell on such dichotomy, or just continue to strive for a better and more accessible coffee community that attracts brilliant minds alike, from all walks of life and background; develop those less cultivated coffee cultures, and new pool of talents will equally have chance to discover the world beyond their shops.

    (By the way, Lauren, you did a fantastic job. The 7th place in round one was only nine points away from a fighting chance in the finals, I believe. You would have been in a tight chase after that, too. That is an amazing achievement for a first-time competitor! Incredible!)

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