A sell-out crowd of 140 women in wine gathered in Sydney last week at the inaugural Women in Wine National Symposium, with a proposed list of urgent steps put forward to combat gender injustices in Australia’s wine industry.

As part of the day, delegates discussed, put forward and then voted on the top actions they want to see taken immediately. The results are, in order of priority:

  1. An industry-wide strategy with accountability measures in place
  2. Funding for AWIW and/or a full-time Diversity, Equality and Inclusion position
  3. Mentoring program available in every wine region.

Event organiser and AWIW Founder and Chair Jane Thomson OAM said: “The lack of action from our wine industry leaders in combatting the significant gender inequality in our industry is both woeful and inexcusable.

“We have now pulled together a list of demands directly from some of Australian wine’s brightest talent. The women in our Australian wine community have spoken – there will be no more excuses.”

Attendees heard how the equality needle has been slow to turn in the wine industry and incredibly in some areas it has gone backwards in recent years. According to the ATO’s latest published figures, between 2013 – 2014 and 2020 – 2021 the gender pay gap for Australian winemakers increased by 100 per cent, going from $7000 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 per cent, highlighting a massive dropout rate.

Friday’s symposium carried the theme: Leadership & Ambition: Exploring 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, and boasted a strong line-up of speakers from within and outside the wine industry.

Performer and journalist Wendy Harmer shared some of her strategies for success from her male-dominated career, while Amanda Gome hosted an interactive workshop to help women counter everyday sexism.

There were also presentations from Nicky Grandorge who shared how Women in Wine NZ is closing the gender gap over the ditch; Professor Chris Wallace from the University of Canberra who spoke about women, leadership and ambition and Corrina Davison, Managing Director for American Express Australia and New Zealand, who offered her advice on how to advocate for and be an ally for women in achieving equal access and opportunity. In addition attendees heard from Kate Goodman, Katherine Brown and Gabrielle Castelluccio who shared their experiences from the wine industry coalface.

Andy Young

Andy joined Intermedia as Editor of The Shout in 2015, writing news on a daily basis and also writing features for National Liquor News. Now Managing Editor of both The Shout and Bars and Clubs.

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