The 8th of March was International Women's Day, and FreshPlaza wanted to hear the stories of some female workers in the sector with important positions in their companies. How has the role of women evolved in a sector still dominated by men? Does a woman need to work harder to prove she deserves her position?
Teresa García: "Women have a sixth sense"
Frugarva is a Murcia-based family business dedicated to the production and marketing of citrus fruits, with a matriarchal structure in which the role of women is fundamental. In fact, of its 500 employees, 75% are women.
"My parents founded this company 55 years ago, just a year before I was born, and they have always taken decisions with unanimity," recalls Teresa García, current manager of the company. "My father died more than 21 years ago and his wife's role has been predominant. She is a pillar for this company and an example as a worker and as a woman. It was she who laid the foundations and DNA of this company, in which 75% of the employees are women," she says.
According to Teresa García, women have a sixth sense, which can be very useful in selling. "Women rely more on feelings, and we have a greater capacity, by nature, to see things in people that motivate us to reach them and understand them more easily. It is something that is reflected in sales and in dealing with workers, etc."
Susi Bonet: "30 years ago, women had to work harder to prove their worth"
Susi Bonet is 50 years old and has been in the sector for more than 30. She is currently sales manager at the Cambayas cooperative, the most important pomegranate producer in Europe, based in Elche, Alicante. "They gave me the opportunity to grow professionally in one of the sectors that is most dominated by men," she recalls.
Susi did not start selling fruit right away, but had to start from scratch. "I started doing more basic tasks in the company, and from that moment onwards, I had to work much harder than a man would to prove I was worthy of such a position. It was something cultural and cyclical at the time, but in the end, I earned the respect I deserved as a woman and as a worker. I think that women have it easier today, since more weight is given to aptitude and skills for the position, without taking into account if you are a man or a woman. Besides that, there are more ways for a woman with children to reach the top, especially when it comes to the care of children, as there are more childcare centres than in the past, for example."
"I think that women bring a more practical, simple and, on many occasions, decisive point of view," says Susi Bonet.
Cristina Gutiérrez: "I do not see myself doing anything other than this"
Cristina Gutiérrez, 40 years old and from Murcia, is currently Commercial Manager at Grupo El Ciruelo, a producer and marketer of stone fruit and table grapes, and has been working in sales for more than 16 years in the fruit sector. "I have a degree in translation and interpretation, although I do not work as a translator. Although I often have to translate things for my colleagues, I get paid to sell," jokes Cristina.
"I started in 2001 as sales assistant, as commercial support for Grupo AMC Antonio Muñoz. At the time, I was the only woman working in fresh fruit sales in that office. I found the job by chance, because I never imagined that I would end up doing this. Just when I arrived from Poland, to study that country's language, I learned through an acquaintance that there was a vacancy in sales. I was motivated by the fact that my grandparents were always farmers and managed to feed and support their families with that, and agriculture has always been in my life in one way or another. I remember when I told my grandfather that I was going to work in citrus sales. He was quite sceptical about it because I was a woman. But then he gradually started asking me about how things were in the lemon market, and whether the prices offered were adequate, etc."
"Working in this sector is really hard, you can never separate it from your personal life, and it's a real challenge being a mother. If I do it, it's because I love it. I never thought I would work doing this and now I do not see myself doing anything else. It's true that this sector is dominated by men, but I'm lucky that in all the years I've been involved in it, I've never been underestimated because I'm a woman," she says. "When I started, I was completely surrounded by men, and nowadays you see more and more women."
T: +34 968 820 firstname.lastname@example.org
Susi BonetCAMBAYAS COOP.V
T +34 email@example.com
Grupo El Ciruelo
M: +34 629 253 150
T: +34 968 630 645