Some of the highest-profile winemakers in Australia are women. Think of the likes of Vanya Cullen, Sue Hodder and Louisa Rose for starters.
Throw in the fact that Sam Connew is chair of judges at the Sydney Wine Show and you'd think everything was hunky dory in terms of gender equality.
Sue Hodder of Wynn's Coonawarra Estate
It isn't. On a recent trip to western Victoria, I didn't come across a single woman winemaker (I'm sure there are some; I just didn't meet any).
And look at the judging panels at some of the regional shows. A dozen old blokes in tweed jackets in a row. A veritable sausage fest.
High-profile women winemakers are the exceptions rather than the rule and today a national survey has revealed for the first time the workplace gender inequality in the Australian wine industry from the perspective of women working in the business.
Vanya Cullen of Cullen Wines
The survey, the first of its kind ever undertaken, asked the all-female respondents to report on their experience in four key areas: pay, maternity and child care, sexist behaviour in the workplace and career advancement.
Key findings included:
The Pay Gap 42% know (or believe) they are paid less than their male colleagues
Maternity & Child Care 25% have experienced unfair treatment over issues of pregnancy, children and/or maternity leave. For those currently with dependent children at home under 18 years of age, that went up to 33%.
Sexist behavior at work 67% have experienced sexist behavior in their workplace
Career advancement 18% believe they do not receive equal career advancement opportunity
So. Not so rosy then. And some of the anecdotes from those polled were horrendous.
“We keep hearing about it anecdotally, but for the first time we now have concrete evidence of the issues women in the Australian wine industry are facing in terms of gender equality,” said Jane Thomson, founder of The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society and chair of the Australian Women in Wine Awards. “And the picture is not a pretty one.”
“Often when chatting informally to women in the industry about their personal experiences they are far less telling. There is pressure not to be seen as ‘that girl’ who takes a stand or makes trouble. However, given the chance to report these things anonymously the true magnitude of the issues has been given voice.”
But is it all doom and gloom? Ms.Thomson thinks not: “Before any problem can be tackled it needs to be fully understood. So the positive that comes out of all this is that we now have a measure of the issue and, as a community, we can work together to create solutions.”
The survey was conducted by The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society on behalf of the advisory board of Australian Women in Wine Awards. A total of 279 women from across all sectors and geographical regions completed the survey between December 2015-January 2016.