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5 Australian initiatives supporting women in hospitality

Posted by Ilona Wallace on Jan 23, 2017 9:05:00 AM

Over the last few years, the myth that hospitality is a “female-dominated” industry has begun to break down, with statistics revealing that the industry is still plagued by the gender gap at every level – from coffee brewing to wine making.

In light of this evidence, a number of initiatives across Australia are helping address this inequality by boosting the role of women in hospitality. 


What the Statistics Reveal 


Women may make up the majority (55%) of the hospitality workforce, but the industry is “dominated” by male leaders. 90.2% of all hospitality CEOs in Australia are men. The proportion of female CEOs is lower in hospitality than across broader industry (across Australia, 15.4% of CEOs are women).

58% of bartenders and baristas are women, but men are 2.5 times more likely to be the highest earners in those occupations.

The coffee industry is famous for holding competitions, but the Guardian points out: “Nine of the 10 staff who run the Ireland-based World Coffee Events (WCE) are women; but in the 15 years the organisation has run the World Barista Championship, it has never been won by a woman. In the World Latte Art Championships, also run by WCE, only five of this year’s 36 finalists were women.”

"58% of bartenders and baristas are women, but men are 2.5 times more likely to be the highest earners in those occupations."
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In the wine industry, the gender imbalance is evident beyond the highest tax bracket: women account for less than 10% of all workers in viticulture and winemaking.

On the other hand, the pay gap between full-time hourly wages for women and men is smaller in the hospitality industry, sitting at 10.9%, compared to the Australian average of 13.9%. However, latest figures show that for baristas and bartenders the income gap is actually widening: women fell AU$748 behind men between 2009 and 2013.

With these studies in mind, several women-specific initiatives have been launched around Australia to encourage women in the hospitality industry, and to support female workers to become leaders. 


Females in Food



Females in Food is a network of business-minded women working in the food and beverage industries.

It’s both an advocacy group and a support organization, where women can gather to share their knowledge about the industry.

The organization’s founder, Chelsea Ford, worked for major multinational companies (Nestle, Kellogg’s, etc.) before pursuing a consulting career.

The Females in Food network aims to connect people who would otherwise not have met, building sustainable and surprising business relationships along the way.

One example of an unlikely connection was between a curry-paste producer and an airline employee. The airline was seeking boutique products to feature, and the curry-paste producer was looking to expand. Through Ford, their discussion began.


Women in Hospitality



Launched at the same time as Females in Food, Women in Hospitality is an up-and-coming network for women working across the broader food/beverage/service industry.

An interview with founder Julia Campbell explains that the vision for the not-for-profit organization is to be a forum for women to discuss and find solutions to issues they face in the industry.

At the moment, it’s a “watch this space” situation; Typsy has been told “Women in Hospitality has formed a board and gone through legal and financial set up with a view to officially launch membership later in the first quarter of this year”.

Interested individuals are encouraged to follow the organization on Facebook, or sign up to the Women in Hospitality newsletter via their website


Women in Wine Awards



The Women in Wine Awards do exactly what they say on the label: celebrate women working in the wine industry.

The aim of the awards is to “acknowledge and reward the work of women in the Australian wine community, and community leaders who champion equality and fairness for all sexes in the workplace.”

The awards grew out of founder Jane Thomson’s passion for the promotion of women in the Australian wine industry. She first launched the Fabulous Ladies’ Wine Society before creating the Women in Wine Awards.

The awards themselves are presented across four categories: Winemaker of the Year, Viticulturist of the Year, Owner/Operator of the Year, and Workplace Champion of Change.

The Workplace Champion of Change can be of any gender; the prize is awarded to an individual who has “provided outstanding support and advocacy for women in the industry and/or has been instrumental in implementing female-friendly work practices.” 


ASCA Eleonora Genovese Coffee Women Awards



The Australian Specialty Coffee Association launched the Eleonora Genovese Coffee Women Awards in 2016.

Genovese was a passionate worker in the coffee industry, and an inspiring leader. She passed away from cancer in 2015, and the award was launched in her honor.

Candidates for the Coffee Woman of the Year award must display commitment to and passion for the coffee industry, in a career spanning at least 10 years.

Criteria for the award includes: demonstrate ability to encourage other women to succeed, show extraordinary leadership qualities, and mentor fellow coffee industry workers. The Rising Star Award is granted to an impressive up-and-comer in the industry.

The inaugural awards were won by Mel Caia (Coffee Woman of the Year) and Lucy Ward (Rising Star Award).

Nominations for the awards can be submitted to info@asca.com.


Coleman’s Academy



Coleman’s Academy is an organization dedicated to the education and support of women in the bartending industry.

Paige Aubort, who won the ALIA Bartender of the Year Award in 2015 and was highly commended for the same award in 2016, had been asked how women can overcome the struggles they face in the liquor industry.

At the time, she responded by saying “a push in the right direction by like-minded peers will help to speed up the process and close the still apparent gap.” Two years on, Aubort launched Coleman’s Academy to be that “push.”

Writes Aubort: “CA is a not-for-profit organisation that focuses on empowering and inspiring women in our industry. It cultivates an environment for the advancement and mentoring of women as bartenders, brand ambassadors, bar and business owners.”

Currently, Coleman’s operates evenings of discussion and mentorship in Sydney, Australia.

Interested individuals can view videos of these sessions online, and sign up to the Coleman’s Academy newsletter for updates.


Inspiration Corner: Take a look at how Fred's in Sydney supports and nutures its female employees. This new farm-to-table restaurant boasts a leadership team full of women, who are considered "the backbone of its kitchen."

Have we overlooked any exciting hospitality initiatives for women? We would love to hear about them. Let us know by leaving a comment below!



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Topics: Hospitality career tips, Hospitality insights