Record number of women in wine gather in Sydney to demand action on gender equality

An industry wine strategy with accountability tops the list of actions at the Australian Women in Wine 2023 National Symposium

 Wine industry leaders take note: a sell-out crowd of 140 women in wine gathered in Sydney on Friday 17 November at the inaugural Australian Women in Wine (AWIW) 2023 National Symposium, where they proposed a list of the urgent steps needed to combat gender injustices in the Australian 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.”

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. According to the ATO’s latest published figures, between 2013 – 2014 and 2020 – 2021 the gender pay gap for Australian winemakers increased by 100%, 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%. This indicates a massive dropout rate.

On Friday, an impressive line-up of thought leaders from both within and outside the wine industry offered their perspectives at the symposium, focusing on 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.”

They included much loved performer and journalist Wendy Harmer, who shared some of her strategies for success from her male-dominated career; Amanda Gome, who hosted an interactive workshop to help women counter everyday sexism; 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; 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; and Kate Goodman, Katherine Brown and Gabrielle Castelluccio who 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. They included representatives from Treasury Wine Estates, Accolade, Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Endeavour Group, Brown Family Wine Group, Brokenwood Wines, Pinnacle Drinks, Langton’s and more.

Sponsors included Presenting Partner, Plumm and Session Sponsors Australian Wine Research Institute, Stanton & Stanton, vintrace and Australian Grape and Wine; and table sponsors Pernod Ricard Winemakers, Wine Australia, ASVO, Bacchus Academy and MacPhee’s.


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