How do we get past this?
Like many women in the beer industry right now, I have lots of thoughts about the Day of Reckoning that has come about due to the open space created on Instagram by Brienne @ratmagnet. It’s so important and so heart-rending to hear these stories, and like everyone on the right side of history, I’m listening hard. It’s utterly awful. But the solution isn’t. Hear me out.
For those who know me, it’s been my prime directive to expand the big tent that is craft beer, to make sure women are comfortable, educated, given a seat at the table and a voice on the mic. I’ve worked to defeat the notion that there are ‘chick beers’, that women can’t do the physical work of production as well as a man, that women can’t handle this job where sometimes you have to be tough as nails, make some hard choices, and put up with some bullshit. But yet, we show up every day and do this and more.
Stop putting limits on people based on gender, and stop conflating your responsibilities as an employer with your libido. Period.
I’ve had the good fortune to join The Brewing Network and be a female voice who is knowledgeable about craft beer, homebrewing, and the brewery business, and start elbowing out some room to make sure all their listeners hear someone who sounds like them. It’s probably been a year since someone asked me, “What’s it like to be a woman in the beer industry?” in an interview… hopefully that’s going to pass as well. I’m not a novelty. I don’t go to work in the morning and think, well, here I am, a woman in craft beer! I’ve been trusted with operating the beer side of my brewery even when I didn’t necessarily have the chops to do so. I appreciate my partners for believing in me, and it’s been an amazing feeling to drive Crooked Lane to the place it is right now.
But here’s the important thing. This isn’t the normal path for a Brewmaster. This wasn’t dues paid, there was no coming up through the ranks for me… This is my second career. I started at 40 years old. There is a world of difference between me and a 24 year old bright young woman who started at the bottom and had to work her way up... But is there? What if she was a man? The answer shouldn't be any different.
For brewery owners/leaders of the male persuasion, let me offer this advice.
First, pretend you are a woman. Think about your world from her point of view.
Then, hire women in leadership roles.
Then, treat your women employees as equals and with respect.
Then, if you find some of your colleagues, customers, vendors, etc. aren’t on board, ask them to come on board. If they can’t, send them on their merry way.
Before you know it, you won’t have a diversity problem. You’ll be surprised how everyone on the team benefits from her ideas and respects her too, because of your shining example.
It may seem the beer industry is male-dominated and misogynistic. It’s only been that way because of the misogynists. We can choose a different future!