Her glass always half full

2016-08-10 15:52
Co-founder of Jack Black beer, Meghan McCulloch.

Co-founder of Jack Black beer, Meghan McCulloch. (Gavin van den Berg)

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“Could I speak to someone who knows something about brewing beer?”

This is a phrase most women who work in the beer and brewing industry have heard at least once in their career.

Challenging the assumption that women have no place in what has always been considered a masculine industry, a campaign, #shelovesbeer, is running to promote equality.

The “unique celebration” of Women’s Day is “a great lens to explore current challenges faced by women”, says organiser Hayley Slater. The “women in beer campaign” intends to change the dialogue around women in beer and hopefully address some of the current stereotypes,” she says.

“We have created a group and already have 86 smart and sassy female members from all walks of life, whether brewers or beer lovers. These women come from large companies like SABMiller through to macro brewers like CBC, small business owners/brewers, home brewers, bloggers, beer enthusiasts, authors and industry players.”

The campaign not only shows theses women’s achievements, but also introduces beer lovers to the women who create beer.

“We hope to create a network of women who can positively engage with beer/breweries, provide advice, inspiration and avenues to educate those who aspire to work and play in this traditionally male industry.”

One of these women is Lucy Corne, an author and blogger who writes about beer and the industry.

She can recount several instances where women, although being excellent brewers in their own right, are treated like “hired help” or “pretty faces”.

Even as a customer, she has often been patronisingly asked if “she’s sure she wants to order a beer”, she says.

Much of this stereotype comes from marketing techniques that focus on using women to sell beer, Corne says.

She references overseas brands with names like “panty dropper” and adverts that show beer to be enjoyed among men and at sports events.

On the other extreme, marketing beer to women is often patronisingly done, with the brand covered in pink, she explains.

The secret to changing perceptions might lie in the craft beer industry, says Jack Black founder Meghan McCulloch.

This market, which is already open to trying new things, is slowly moving away from the traditional perceptions of beer, and women’s role in it.

“There are less preconceived ideas around craft beer. Already people are open to something new and interesting. The consumer is more mixed.”

Studies have proven that women have more sensitive palates than men, meaning that they bring an extra element to the industry, McCulloch says.

While women might not bring more to the industry than men, they certainly don’t bring less, says Corne. She personally knows many women who are able to physically keep up with the demand of hoisting large bags of ingredients in the brewing process.

It also makes sense to market beer to women in a way they can relate to, says McCulloch, as women tend to have more purchasing power than men and will often choose which brand is consumed.

However, big brands will need to come on board before any large-scale change can be affected in the industry, says Corne.
“If you see women in the adverts, alongside men, after a while it won’t seem so strange for women to be drinking beer.”

The #shelovesbeer goes live on social media today (Women’s Day).

The #shelovesbeer campaign looks to explore the role of women in the beer industry.

PHOTO: Gavin van den Berg

Author Lucy Corne
PHOTO: Gavin van den Berg

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