I had the amazing opportunity today (8/31/2017) to participate in a panel of Women in Beer, coordinated by the Minnesota Craft Brewers Guild at the Minnesota State Fair. The rain encouraged people to enter the Agriculture Building, right into the Land of 10,000 Beers where we were discussing the many roles women take on in the field of craft brewing. About 40 people hung out for the duration of the panel, with another 100 or so people passing through as they enjoyed local craft beer.
Prior to the panel, a couple of my panel-mates were interviewed by local news and a good discussion came up – why do we need to highlight women in any industry? Why is it a thing? Or specifically, why are we always asked the same questions?
All of the panel agreed that someday we would like to just *be* on a panel, or in any scenario, surrounded by people who are great at what they do and look like however they look – male, female, tattooed, blue hair, etc. As one of my panel-mates pointed out, one doesn’t need to use their genitalia to make great beer, so why does it matter?
The challenges we face in traditionally male-dominated fields is the years of a lack of visibility or representation. When you think of a brewer, what do they look like? When you think of a mechanic, what do they look like? It’s important to highlight women in these roles to show the 4th grade girl or high school freshman or fresh college grad that there are people that look like her in the jobs that she may not have considered. One of my panel-mates pointed out that she loves showing young kids a quick tour of the brewery in her work gear – it normalizes seeing a female in the field, and that can have an impact on the kids later in life – they CAN go after these careers.
So, you’re not a woman in (insert industry here). What can you do? From Gender Avengers, here’s three ways that men can end the all male panel, including a pledge that you can sign and share with your peers. The three actions are simple, and I hope the men in my industry take a moment to read and reflect on this information.