The lack of action from Australian wine industry leaders in combatting the significant gender inequality in the sector is “woeful and inexcusable” says Jane Thomson OAM, founder and chair of Australian Women in Wine (AWIW).
She was speaking after a sell-out crowd of 140 women in wine gathered in Sydney on Friday for the inaugural AWIW 2023 National Symposium, where they proposed a list of the urgent steps needed to combat gender injustices in the Australian wine industry.
Delegates discussed, put forward and then voted on the top actions they want to see taken immediately. The results are, in order of priority:
- An industry-wide strategy with accountability measures in place;
- Funding for AWIW and/or a full-time Diversity, Equality and Inclusion position; and
- Mentoring program available in every wine region.
“We have now pulled together a list of demands directly from some of Australian wine’s brightest talent,” Thomson says.
“The women in our Australian wine community have spoken – there will be no more excuses.”
Thomson says that in the Australian wine industry, the needle has been painfully slow to move on gender equality.
“In fact, on some key measures the industry has actually gone backwards in recent years,” she says.
“According to the ATO’s latest published figures, between 2013-2014 and 2020-2021 the gender pay gap for Australian winemakers increased by 100 percent, going from $7,000 to $14,000 per year.
“For viticulturists and growers it’s even worse, with the gap at $18,500.
“Men and women graduate from oenology degrees in almost equal numbers here in Australia, however the latest ABS statistics show that female participation in winemaking overall is still stuck at 17 percent.
“This indicates a massive dropout rate.”
Friday’s Symposium explored the challenges women face pursuing a career in the Australian wine industry and how to advance them to positions of power for the betterment of the industry.
Wendy Harmer shared some of her strategies for success from her male-dominated career; Amanda Gome hosted an interactive workshop to help women counter everyday sexism; Nicky Grandorge shared how Women in Wine NZ is closing the gender gap over the ditch; Professor Chris Wallace from the University of Canberra spoke about women, leadership and ambition; Corrina Davison, managing director for American Express Australia and New Zealand, offered her advice on how to advocate for and be an ally for women in achieving equal access and opportunity; and Kate Goodman, Katherine Brown and Gabrielle Castelluccio shared their experiences from the wine industry coalface.
A who’s who of Australian wine from around the country were in attendance, including key decision makers and CEOs, growers, suppliers, viticulturists, winemakers, sales and marketing professionals, cellar door staff and beyond.
Photo: Dan Gosse Images.