Brewing equality: N.S. craft breweries take stand against sexism, discrimination
‘It sort of felt like the community had my back,’ says craft brewer
Kelly Costello drinks beer, brews beer and teaches beermaking, but beer marketing doesn't seem to be tapping into that.
"Half the time it's like, 'Enjoy a cold one with the boys,'" said Costello, who works as the CommuniBrew program co-ordinator at Good Robot Brewing in Halifax.
"I'm like, 'Yeah, I like hanging out with men, but what about the girls?'"
In some provinces, half-naked women and sexist language have made their way onto beer can labels.
The Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia recently took a stand against this type of marketing. In June, 35 craft breweries voted unanimously on a motion that promotes equality.
Zero tolerance for discrimination
The motion states that the Nova Scotia craft beer industry strives to uphold inclusiveness and equality for all in carrying out day-to-day activities.
It also encourages members to operate equal and supportive workplaces and pledges "zero tolerance of discrimination" in their marketing practices.
Jeremy White, the founder and operator of Big Spruce Brewing in Cape Breton, first thought of creating the motion after reading a post by an Ontario beer writer and blogger, Ben Johnson.
Johnson wrote about the objectification of women on craft beer labels in that province.
White sees the craft beer industry in Nova Scotia as inclusive, but still sees the need to speak up as an association.
"It's a statement really demonstrating that we don't want some of these issues that are occurring in other jurisdictions to pop up here," he said.
Costello welcomes the move.
"It meant that, you know, somebody cared," she said. "It sort of felt like the community had my back."
Aside from marketing issues, she said there's also the problem of drunk people at festivals.
A man at the Fredericton Craft Beer Festival offered her a cider, but she turned it down because she already had a beer.
"He said, 'OK, well how 'bout a place to lie down?"
'They assume I do the bookkeeping'
Emily Tipton, president of the Craft Brewers Association of Nova Scotia, said she finds the Nova Scotia craft beer industry quite inclusive. The motion is about making a statement, she said. It's about inclusion for everyone.
But she does think there are stereotypes that exist outside of the industry.
Tipton is one of the founding partners and beer engineers at Boxing Rock brewing company in Shelburne, but some people wouldn't think that.
"They, you know, assume I do the bookkeeping or something like that," she said.
Tipton thinks female brewers get a lot of attention for being female. People treat it like it's an unusual thing, she said, and it's something she doesn't like.
"It's not something I've experienced in other industries I've worked in — people making a big deal about my gender," she said.
Association still in its infancy
White said the association is in its infancy and "it is at times challenging to find the issues that everybody wants to hang their hat on," he said.
"I was happy to see that [the motion] was … one of them."