Growing up a Portland native I have always known I wanted to be in the craft brewing industry. As a woman I dream about a day where the craft brewing industry sees as many female brewery owners as males. My long-term vision is to start a brewery of my own with a female brew master. With this on my mind, I was feeling inspired lately by the hard working women I am around and decided to pick their brains. I was lucky enough to conduct some interviews with some powerful women involved and leading the way in the craft brewing industry.
The most challenging part of being a woman in beer is the “boys club” mentality that we face everyday. “You kind of have to prove yourself,” as Molly Tyler, former Administrative Assistant at Base Camp Brewing Co. puts it. Like most admins, Molly was the glue of Base Camp and did all the grunt work to keep the company going. Not only is it a boy’s club in the brewing industry, but also, female brewers are combatted everyday with struggles of how they function in a brewery. Being a brewer is a very manual job and can be even harder for women.
The industry has seen a shift in the last five years. What used to be a male dominated industry has transitioned and now women fill about fifty percent of positions. Karolyn Simon, Associate Brand Manager for Kona Brewing Company, has been in the industry for 7 years. She has felt the movement. “I don’t think the industry is dominated by males as much anymore… maybe on the brewing and packaging side, but definitely not in the other parts of the business. I have met so many female brewery reps, marketing pros, QA techs, and beyond lately! That shows where we’re going. When society changes I think the industry changes too.”
Karmen Olson, Director of Innovation at Craft Brew Alliance, sums it up very well. “In the last five years there has been a lot of progress. In five years from now, I see the movement continuing. In ten years from now we should expect gender equality. That can’t happen without the influence of men in the industry as well.” We have seen this shift and now it’s time to continue on that momentum and make sure that gender equality seeps into every aspect and role of the craft brewing industry. Whether you’re rinsing kegs, or designing packaging, the main focus is that we all are doing what we love in a community that we love.
For more information on how to get involved in the craft brewing community for women in your city check out the Pink Boots Society.