A national survey has revealed for the first time the state of workplace gender inequality in the Australian wine industry from the perspective of women working in the industry.

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 include:

  • The Pay Gap 42% know (or believe) they are paid less than their male colleagues
  • Maternity & Child Care 25% (1 in 4) 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 1 in 3 (33%).
  • Sexist behavior at work 67% (2 out of every 3) have experienced sexist behavior in their workplace
  • Career advancement 18% (almost 1 in 5) believe they do not receive equal career advancement opportunity

Survey Infographic

“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,” continued Ms. Thomson.

Respondents were given the chance in the survey to expound on their personal experiences and share their stories. These shared experiences, while not quantifiable, are all the more revealing. Examples of statements provided include:

  • “I was demoted and treated badly for not being able to continue my duties because of falling pregnant.”
  • “The GM was always ‘joking’ about his hatred of maternity leave and how women have it easy.”
  • “I applied for an internal role and was asked if I planned on having children because they didn’t want to hire someone that would eventually go on maternity leave.”
  • “Males often preferred not to deal with me, and assumed there must be a man of more importance/influence within our company.”
  • “When I was introducing a regional sustainability program for viticulture, it was suggested by a man to hand the program introduction and implementation to another man in our region, as they’d be taken more seriously.”
  • “I was told by male work colleagues that I will do better with certain customers because some male customers like to have a perv”.
  • “I’ve been instructed not to get ‘emotional’ at work if I got angry or disagreed strongly with a male colleague.”

The survey results come on the back of numbers released in 2014 showing that despite graduating in equal numbers from the nation’s tertiary institutions, women still only make up nine per cent of Australia’s winemakers and ten per cent of viticulturists.

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 results give even more support to the establishment of the Australian Women in Wine Awards, which had its inaugural year in 2015 and will be running again in 2016. Entries open 30 July. 

About the survey:

The survey was conducted by The Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society on behalf of the advisory board of Australian Women in Wine Awards. 279 women from across all sectors and geographical regions completed the survey between December 2015 – January 2016.


The Advisory Board of the Australian Women in Wine Awards includes Jane Thomson (Chair), Jeni Port (Wine Writer), Toni Carlino (Wine Marketing Consultant) Samantha Connew (CEO & Winemaker, Stargazer Wine) and Corrina Wright (CEO & Winemaker, Oliver’s Taranga), as well as newly appointed members Brian Walsh (Chair, Wine Australia) and Rebekah Richardson (Group Sparkling & White Winemaker, Pernod Ricard Winemakers).



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