Personalise my view
Personalise my view

😊 Personalise my view

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Crafting an equal future

Our very own Kate Stuart is a remarkable TAFE Queensland teacher helping other females enter the very popular (and very male dominated) Australian Craft Brewing Industry.

What attracted you to working in the craft brewing industry?

"I started in science. I finished a double degree/triple major program at Murdoch Uni in 2004 - A Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Science, Molecular Biology and Forensic Biology and Toxicology. I worked for a few years as a medical scientist but found the work very repetitive."

"I then moved into brewing as a lab tech. I like working in brewing because the process is so complex and there is always a problem to be solved and something that can be improved. Craft in particular is great because it’s so innovative and inventive. Also, beer is delicious and fun to make!"

As a female, working in a traditionally male industry, what challenges have you come across?

"The difficulties are mostly to do with opportunities. As a woman, it is very difficult to get a start in hands-on brewing roles and I found myself being increasingly sidelined into analytical, supporting roles, despite applying for brewing roles, completing an additional qualification in brewing and trying to gain experience whenever I could."

"On the whole, in my experience, brewers are a pretty decent bunch. Other women might have experienced hostility or harassment but I haven’t."

What do you believe the benefits would be, for the industry as a whole, if more women became involved in craft brewing?

"The craft brewing industry needs good brewers. A good brewer could come from many different backgrounds - for example, they could be a chef, with a great palate and knack for efficiency. They could be a fitter, with good mechanical aptitude, or a scientist who can understand the process."

"A person’s gender has no bearing on whether they’ll be a good brewer, but by involving women in brewing we increase the amount of the population who can become brewers."

Are there other women in the craft brewing industry who you admire for their work in making the industry more gender inclusive?

"Certainly - representation matters, so every woman in the industry helps! There are too many women to name individually but we are out there, from female engineering graduates working as shift leads in large commercial breweries; to female brewers, to lab techs and brewing scientists, shift production workers and senior management."

"There's a great society called 'Pink Boots' that is working to empower women beer professionals to advance their careers in the industry through Education. I’ve been a member for a while and I recommend joining."

What’s been the uptake of the Certificate III in Food Processing (FBP30121) by female students?

"We’ve had a few, although in a class of 14 students we have never had more than a few female students at a time. It would be great to see more women applying."

"Those that do study with us have all worked hard and been successful in their studies. We have some female graduates who are now employed in the craft brewing industry. Our current students are also showing a lot of promise as well."

What would your top tips be for any woman who is interested in a career in the craft brewing industry?

  1. Study with TAFE Queensland of course - we would love to have you!"
  2. Keep trying. Learn about the process, and introduce yourself to plenty of craft breweries. Often breweries will hold an open brew day for home brew clubs or other enthusiasts and it’s a good way to learn.
  3. Ask if you can do some unpaid work experience. If a job comes up that you can do that isn’t brewing, such as sales or working over the bar, and it’s at a brewery that you really like, try applying. Sometimes you can move sideways into a brewing role over time.
  4. Try home brew as a hobby. You’ll make plenty of mistakes, but you’ll learn from them.
  5. And don’t assume that because you don’t look like the stock photos of brewers (i.e. you’re not a young bloke, with a perfectly groomed beard and flannel shirt) that there’s no place for you.
  6. Finally, keep having fun with it!