Oh, I'm going there today.
I'm in a down-n-out mood today, so probably shouldn't be touching upon any hardcore topics at the moment, but this is way too much of a serious and important topic to cover. And it's something which is brushed off and overlooked for the most part, which is very scary.
However, before we get into this, I want to emphasise that, like many sexist parts of an industry, this does not affect everyone and anyone who is a part of the coffee industry.
If you're reading this and don't know my background, I'll briefly summarise. I've run a coffee blog in some form or another for 6 years now, and for 5 of those I've also worked as a Barista. Alongside that, I've been studying the likes of sociology and history - so it's easy to say I've adopted feminist ideologies very quickly. However, I never thought I'd adopt it to my own life experiences - I'd always thought it would only happen in more 'traditional' male spheres.
I mean, how 'masculine' is making pretty hearts and swans on top of lattes, am I right? Well, you'd be surprised.
Let's start with the big facts, which will probably stir up the most controversy (as it always tends to when paralleled in other formats of sexism). A woman has never won the World Barista Championships, and a starkingly minimal amount of women enter in their national contests also when compared to their male counterparts. Now, don't get me wrong, this does not mean that the competition is sexist, that the judges are favourable to men - I'm trying to emphasise the atmosphere which has developed in the coffee industry which makes the majority of females in the coffee industry feel uncomfortable.
I would love to put my own response to this, but as someone who does not get involved in competitions for other reasons (hint: social anxiety and competitions do not mix), I can't really delve deeper into this.
What I would rather draw the attention to is the layout of a shop's operations. Coming from experience both working within the coffee shops and also visiting countless numbers of these over the years, it's hard not to notice the very apparent divide in role allocation between males and females. Men, almost always located behind the coffee machine, do not venture far from it. Women, however, tend to for the most part remain in the service and hospitality based roles - taking orders, cleaning, and delivering items to tables. When I visit a coffee shop on several occasions and this remains the same, this tends to strike warning bells for me.
During my years of being in the coffee shop profession, I've had people ask for the manager (when it's been me), call me darling, flirt with me...down to telling me to go clear a table whilst the guys behind the coffee machine stand there on their phones. Not only this, but I've had staff members/managers ask me to serve customers because "our male customers prefer a woman", to lean over the counter because that'll get better tips (seriously?)...even going as far as asking me to finish off a cleaning task because as a female, I'm "naturally good at that".
If you want this inequality in simple numbers, I'll just say that in almost every job I've been in, my male counterpart has been paid more than me, as well as having less responsibility in their official job roles.Some people need hard numbers to feel that inequality is a thing, whereas others like more qualitative data. I've expressed both so if you still don't think that sexism isn't a thing then you really need to go re-evaluate the situation.
To wrap this up, sexism in coffee shops is a thing. As I've mentioned before, this does not affect everyone in the coffee industry, which is why this can be such a disjointed conversation to have because (like most areas of inequality) many people shut the argument down because of the lack of their own personal experience. I mean heck, I didn't really notice it until a close female barista I used to work with pointed it out to me, which changed my outlook on a lot of areas of my career.
I'm lucky enough now to be in a position of authority within the coffee industry, and I want to use this to help bridge the gap of inequality within the coffee industry. Although I've focused on females as I feel this is where the inequality has largely been, there have been times I've seen this impact men's work also. If any of you girls or guys have any firsthand experiences of this, I would love to hear from you.
Now that we've got this article out of the way, I would like to wish you all a wonderful bank holiday - and keep brewing!