At this time last year we were on the brink of the pandemic shutdown and Women’s Month—which officially begins in March– became almost an afterthought for many of us. Of course, women—and especially women of color—have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic making us think things haven’t really improved much for our gender these last few years. And last Fall’s news of sexual harassment and mistreatment of women in the wine world’s most hallowed circles also make us wonder what inroads we are truly making in gender equality.
The pandemic effect on women
According to the most recent Census Bureau data from 2018, women of all races earned, on average, 20% less than men. This wage gap is much larger for women of color with Black and Hispanic women making 38% and 46% less respectively than their male counterparts. And in 2018, female entrepreneurs received just 2.2% of all venture capital resources available in the U.S. But the pandemic has underscored generations of inequitable social policy—it has been estimated that the risk of mothers leaving the work force in order to assume caretaking responsibilities amounts to $64.5 billion per year in lost wages and economic activity. And while we hope there aren’t lasting effects on women as the economy recovers, one study found that women who took just one year out of the workforce had annual earnings that were 39% lower that those of women who did not.
Where can we go from here?
Despite these dismal data points we remain encouraged by the continued focus of policymakers and leaders in our industry who remain dedicated to addressing these inequities and empowering women to seek entrepreneurship. We also know that despite the fact that winery ownership and winemakers are still overwhelmingly male, the number of women in these roles has increased. There are more women in wine business leadership positions, more female winemakers, and the number of networks to support women in wine has exploded. Some companies like Constellation (link?) brands have started funds for beverage industry entrepreneurs, organizations like Roots Funds (Link) have given wine education scholarships for women and minorities, and initiatives like Women Owned Wineries (link) are connecting female-owned wineries to conscientious consumers. Finally, organizations like Black Girls Wine (link) and our own Latinas Wine Club are empowering women of color in the wine industry through wine education.
We have a long way to go and the pandemic has made our journey more arduous, but we will definitely not let this year’s Women’s Month pass without a loud call to action to continue the momentum and progress we have made.