Speaking at the first Brewers Congress in London yesterday (27 November), Jaega Wise outlined three ways sexism within the beer industry could be tackled, and outlined the pitfalls of marketing beer specifically at the female segment of the market.
“There are a whole list of things the industry can do but I really wanted to focus on practical ways that we, as an industry, can act against sexism and change the way the industry is,” she said. “I’ve come up with three ideas that I think we can implement over the next year.
“Number one: we are calling on the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) for more information. SIBA sends out a questionnaire each year and we would love to see more questions asked of brewers to try and get more information about women in beer. If we don’t have the statistics it is hard for us to take action."
Code of practise for brewers
She continued: “Number two: I would like to see a marketing and advertising code of practice. This is something that has been recently implemented by the US Brewers Association. It has issued a code of practice that breweries sign up to and you commit to not using sexist branding within your company. I think this would be a real practical and meaningful way of enacting change.
“Number three: a ban on beers with sexist imagery and branding entering SIBA and CAMRA festival competitions. I think this would quite quickly stop some of the smaller breweries from deciding to have branding with some boobs on the front.”
Wise also used her speech to highlight the lack of female representation in the brewing side of the industry, pointing to the absence of women in senior roles at London breweries.
“Take London as a case study,” she said. “According to London CAMRA, there are 110 breweries in operation. Out of those, there are currently four female head brewers. That is less than 4% of the London brewing industry being led by women.
“That is quite a shocking statistic, and the only reason I know that is because I know the four women personally.”
'Pink it and shrink it' slammed
Hitting out at the “pink it and shrink it” attitude of marketing towards women in beer, Wise added: “When you aim a beer at one gender, you are completely alienating about 75% of your market, but you also run the risk of patronising the other 25%.”
The Wild Card head brewer praised groups such as Ladies That Beer for calling out the examples on social media, but insisted wider action was required to tackle the issue.
“There are several groups that have sprung up in the UK like The Crafty Beer Girls and Ladies That Beer who act as great support networks for women within the beer industry,” she said. “But the industry itself is slow to change and there is not a huge amount of movement that has been made.
“We are hearing lots of bloggers and press talking about the issue of sexism, but I would like to see some meaningful change coming from the industry itself.”