Brewing and beer are frequently stereotyped as “men’s worlds”. Beer ads are often targeted at men, using women as little more than props to hold the beer. This way of thinking is not only toxic but also untrue. In 2014, women aged 21-34 represented 15% of ALL craft beer consumption, and drank “above index,” meaning that they consume it at a greater rate than the national average. Though women comprise a larger market segment every year, they are not well represented in industry careers. An overwhelming majority of brewers, brewmasters, and other brewery operating staff are male. Women are consistently underrepresented in positions in brewing, with only 17% of breweries having a female CEO and 4% with a female brewmaster. While women are a major force powering the success of craft beer, the industry itself still has far to go.
Today is International Women’s Day. To help break the stereotype that craft beer “isn’t for women,” we wanted to follow the stories of how our female employees ended up at Monday Night and share their thoughts about working in the brewing industry. We spoke to six of our full-time female employees, including:
We talked about their experiences, positive and negative, to show what it is like to be a woman in a still male-heavy industry.
The Journey to Monday Night
Given the breadth of their jobs at Monday Night, it shouldn’t be surprising that all of our women come from different backgrounds. Kelsey initially joined Monday Night as a bartender, Sarah used to be a paralegal, Carlen worked in TV production, Rachel K. was a bartender in Chicago, Jaclyn worked with a distribution company, and Rachel B. first came to Monday Night through a marketing internship. One thing they all had in common? A love of good beer.
“I seriously had beernerd fan girl moments when I first started my internship” says Rachel B.
Sarah, who made her first foray into the craft brewing industry with Goose Island as a weekend host, says the main perk was being able to “reap the benefits of free shift beer.” However, none of these women joined the industry just to get a free buzz.
“I quickly fell in love with how fascinating beer is,” says Sarah, “Science! History! Food! Culture! I studied anthropology, so the fact that beer ties into every aspect of the development of civilization really caught my interest.”
Carlen, unable to find a full time job in TV production, grew tired of the unpredictability of contract work. Familiar with the Monday Night founders through their homebrewing roots in the garage, she “checked the blog daily, waiting for them to post jobs. […] Working for a brewery wasn’t something I necessarily intended to do, but four years later, I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”
An Imperfect Industry
Unfortunately, though we work hard at Monday Night to provide an inclusive work environment, we can only do so much to combat sexism in the industry as a whole. Some made light of it and Jaclyn opened with a joke, saying her “personal beer knowledge is challenged, because how can a woman know anything about a man’s beverage?” She then went on to open up about “accounts who take advantage of my contact information, and call/text me at all hours of the night asking me to come hang out or if I’m still awake.” While this is an extreme example, the other women were not immune.
Carlen says that in general women are “not taken seriously, and people are legitimately surprised when we actually know what we’re talking about. Our opinions are belittled because it’s assumed we’re just regurgitating facts and figures that a man must have told us.”
Kelsey echoed this opinion, citing that she doesn’t always feel as respected as her male colleagues.
Luckily, the future appears to be looking up, and few of our employees felt sexism in brewing was a daily struggle. Rachel K, who has a management position in the company as a sales director, stated her plan to keep the progress rolling, saying
“As a hiring manager I think the number one way to support women in this industry is to interview them, hire them when they are qualified, and support them equally as their male counterparts.”
For the Love of Beer
Why stay in a male-dominated industry where people don’t always take you seriously? Love of the game. “Beer is more than just a beverage for me; it’s a conversation starter, a means of celebration, and at times a bit of liquid courage,” says Jaclyn, explaining her love for a drink that she’s built a career around. Rachel B. loves the excitement, and said that “it’s very rarely boring.”
Sarah gushed about her job, saying “I love that it’s mentally challenging and physically active. […] I also love that the industry as a whole is open and collaborative. Craft brewers are all in this together.”
Kelsey also explained her love for it all: everyone’s desire to be the best in every regard and the pursuit of our never-ending quest to have the best product for the best price at the best bar. When asked why she has worked at Monday Night for so long, Carlen simply said, “The people I work with. Monday Night has some of the best in the business, and I feel so lucky to have such an amazing team. The beer’s pretty good too.”
Happy International Women’s Day from Monday Night Brewing! To celebrate, all of the women featured in this article (and a few more) came together to brew the newest member of our Small Batch Series, SMASH the Glass Ceiling, a single hop and single malt ale dry hopped with rose hips and violets, two symbols of the women’s suffrage movement. It’s available in our tasting room starting tomorrow, and 20% of the proceeds from all tours sold on Thursday will be donated to BeLoved Atlanta!