Rydzik, Agnieszka; Ellis, Victoria
University of Lincoln, United Kingdom
Despite increasing numbers of women entering the UK microbrewing industry, female brewers remain marginalised in this traditionally male dominated sector. This is due to the barriers women face when entering this industry and is often attributed to the physical nature of the role as well as deeply rooted stereotyped assumptions. To date, there has been no sustained examination of women brewers’ experiences and research into how the microbrewing sector is gendered remains limited. This paper explores the barriers female brewers face in this male dominated industry and identifies the coping strategies they adopt to challenge the status quo, confront stereotyped assumptions and contest inequalities. In doing so, the study gives voice and visibility to female brewers. It also highlights the significant role of support networks by providing an in-depth insight into an emergent network of female brewers, namely Project Venus. The Project Venus network brings together female brewers from the United Kingdom and Ireland, and engages them in collaborative action, co-creation and community building. This study examines the value women brewers attach to the network and the benefits they draw from belonging to this community. This qualitative study is based on sixteen in-depth interviews with female brewers in the Project Venus network as well as participant observation at Project Venus networking events. The data was analysed using thematic and narrative data analysis methods to uncover barriers to entry and coping strategies, with a particular focus on the impact of belonging to the network on personal and collective empowerment.