Being a Woman in Beer
“So what’s it like being a woman in beer?” asked a woman at a Barley’s Angels event in our Speakeasy several weeks ago. It’s a question I’ve been asked before, and it’s one I’m sure people will continue to ask as long as beer remains a male dominated industry. I’ve been bartending and working for […]
“So what’s it like being a woman in beer?” asked a woman at a Barley’s Angels event in our Speakeasy several weeks ago.
It’s a question I’ve been asked before, and it’s one I’m sure people will continue to ask as long as beer remains a male dominated industry. I’ve been bartending and working for breweries since college, so I’ve never had a career that doesn’t involve beer in some capacity, but I can speak to anecdotal evidence that being a woman in this industry presents its own set of challenges and benefits.
Challenge 1: Being one of the only women in a room full of semi-inebriated dudes.
If our owner Marisa, our head of HR Nicole, or I show up for a beer festival, it’s immediately obvious that we’re some of the few women working. We’ve even worked large scale events where we can count the female brewery employees on one hand. We’re constantly met with either, “It’s so refreshing to see women in beer” or “You must feel pretty lucky to be a woman in a room full of men” or “So what are you doing later?” While the questions and advances are sometimes unwelcome, the industry as a whole isn’t completely riddled with misogyny. Most people in the industry welcome diversity and appreciate the women that demand to have their voices heard, but we certainly deal with the occasional festival attendee who thinks making jokes about our gender, appearance, or how “lucky” we are. Please don’t be that person at festivals.
Challenge 2: We have to lift a lot of heavy shit.
Working at a brewery means moving kegs, carrying cases, and hauling donations around, no matter what your position is. I spent about 1/3 of my day setting up beer for tasting rooms, retail fridges, and onsite and offsite events, which means I’ve gotten pretty strong, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t exhausting.
Challenge 3: Feeling like we have something extra to prove.
The fact that anyone has to ask what it’s like being a woman in this industry is proof enough that people assume women have extra hurdles to jump to be successful. I have had people (not including my coworkers) who assume that I’m too weak or too small or too inexperienced to contribute. It’s frustrating and insulting to be told that it’s “surprising” that I work in the beer industry. I can speak for all women in beer when I say that not only are women highly capable producers of beer, but we’re also consumers, and the industry would do well to remember it!
Advantages: Everything else!
Despite the occasional creepy drunk guy, the heavy lifting, and feeling underestimated, this job and this industry are wonderful to work for. I show up to work for a company that is employee-focused, rapidly growing, and that trusts me to do my job well and to do my job in the way that I feel works best. Every day that I’m here, I physically interact with our product and am reminded what our goals are and what we stand for. We are the living, breathing example of a successful small business, a group of employees that functions well together, and how having fun at work can actually help us get more done.
So in the future, when somebody asks me what it’s like being a woman in beer, I’ve got plenty of funny festival stories, but I also have endless examples of how my job gives me voice, gives me community, and of course gives me free beer!