asking people how common they think sexism is in the wine industry, and asking for insider stories of sexism that people have actually witnessed.
I got very few of the latter, even though the post was widely read and I opened my blog to anonymous comments, which meant I spent the whole week deleting unrelated crap. (A little inside-blog thing: if you have lots of pageviews and you don't check your comments, bots will place links to weird gibberish sites.)
I ran a very unscientific opinion poll, and while about 30% of respondents believe sexism is common at all levels in the wine industry, about the same number of people think it is not unusually common.
Here are the highlights of the observations I did get:
* Women are underrepresented in management. This is the most serious point.
* Women viticulturists may not always be included in men's discussions of vineyard management, even if that is their job.
* Some male winemakers joke openly about sex with female interns.
* When consumers see a man and woman together presenting a wine, they assume the man is the winemaker.
* Male customers enjoy testing the wine knowledge of female servers.
That's what I got. It's a huge step up from the 1960s, and the industry may have reached parity or nearly so at hiring for entry-level positions, but the executive suite remains a man's domain.
Here's one observation from the poll, which doesn't surprise me:
* People think sexism is least common in technical jobs.
Here's why I wrote the original post.
It would be good for me, professionally, if sexism is still widespread in winemaking. US newspapers and magazines are endlessly interested in stories of women overcoming barriers in male-dominated industries. I've written the "women winemakers in region X" story a few times, and since I get paid by the story, I'd like to write it every two months for the rest of my life.
But it has been getting harder to do. I ask women winemakers all the time if they find difficulty being a woman in the wine industry. The answer, lately, has almost always been "no." You can't sell the "women winemakers in California" story anymore: it's just not news. You have to look further and further afield. It probably is news in Croatia, and maybe I'll do that next.
However, I was at the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association convention a couple of months ago, and I noticed that women are rare in that most profitable segment of the industry.
Not many people, if any, write about sexism in the wine industry. So I thought I'd take a poll, take comments, start a conversation.
Much of the conversation ended up being about -- and against -- the post itself: is it trivializing sexism, how were the paragraphs constructed, etc.
You don't have to do months of academic research to write about high-alcohol Pinots or natural wines or the 100-point scale or any other important wine topic. You can just post an opinion and start talking. Not too late, folks: here or anywhere else on the Internet you can talk about this topic.