Women in craft beer have always been a hot topic in the industry. Everything from marketing, event promoting, industry related conferences, and even the macro beer discussion has at some point discussed the issue of “women relating to beer.” If you haven't read about my angle on the “women's” debacle before, I encourage you to visit my “Women in Beer” post from a couple years ago.
When I was last up in Portland I went to a special viewing of For The Love of Beer, a fantastic documentary that provided an honest and inspiring look into the spirit of the women involved in the craft beer community. I enjoyed that the film took the stance of portraying these women based on their individual contributions, and not needlessly playing up their gender roles. Women in general find stereotypes inflammatory whether they come from the angle of extreme frills or the angle of women trying to be men--it's a surefire way to get many of us up on our soapboxes. The way this movie presented the concept was simple and amazing: we do it for the love of beer--that is all. Viewing this movie prompted some self-reflection into my own personal experiences as a woman and my ever growing involvement in the beer industry.
It took a long time for me to decide to join the Pink Boots Society (PBS) for many reasons, including the paradigms surrounding being in a “sisterhood.” I feel like many female focused societies get a reputation as “women who lunch”--fund raising, fashion shows, extravagant parties to raise money that cost more than they produce. While this characterization is perhaps overboard, allow me to banish these thoughts when it comes to PBS. The Pink Boots Society has two official meetings a year, Craft Brewers Conference and the Great American Beer Festival, making them much more accessible to participants than so many other woman's social groups that try to limit their members through financial barriers and temporal constraints. Many of us will already be at these events and an extra meeting is in no way a burden to its members. Most importantly, membership requires you to be a woman who is actively employed by the industry. That's all. This alone eliminates any image of PBS only being a social club because it's a group strictly for professionals.
Why have a group that is dedicated strictly to women? I will be the first person to get on my soap box if I feel that I am being pegged as a lesser being for something being pink, or frilly, or “dumbed down” for me since I'm a woman. I also don't want to be categorized as attempting to be masculine even if I do think craft beer is “rock n' roll.” I don't think joining a “sorority” is working against the dream of gender neutrality in the craft beer industry. I strongly believe that an organization built for the purpose of encouraging strong female leaders in the beer industry is beneficial for brewing as a whole, the future of craft beer, and will help with strides towards more meaningful gender integration.
I am very excited to start my journey with such wonderful group of inspiring women, and I hope that my future contributions will be equally meaningful. I am proud to be new member of the Pink Boots Society.