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The Latest Wrinkle in Sex Discrimination: Paying Less for Wine Because it's Made by a Woman

Updated: Jun 27



Sex Discrimination: Paying Less for Wine Made by a Woman

Would you pay more – or less – for wine depending on the gender of the winemaker? One study reveals that female winemakers may be at a disadvantage when pricing their wine, especially if they are associated with other female winemakers.  


Two researchers from the Kedge Business School in France studied whether the gender of a winemaker might influence how much a consumer would be willing to pay for the wine. To the best of the researchers’ knowledge, this had not been previously studied.


They recruited male and female French-speaking consumers from France and Belgium because French is a gendered language, and only surveyed people who were relatively familiar with wine.


They provided the respondents with sets of five identical wines. All of the wine labels were the same except for the information related to the winemaker. One label was gender neutral. One named a male wine producer (“Georges Cadieux”), one label named a female producer (“Nathalie Panetier”), one said that the wine was made by a woman who was part of a female vintner (i.e., winemaking) group, and one stated that it was made by a man who was part of a male vintner group. The respondents were asked to value the wines and indicate their willingness to pay for them.


The results were interesting. The respondents were willing to pay the same amounts for the wine if it was produced by either “Georges” or “Nathalie” or by the winemaker in the male vintner group.


However, the consumers wanted to pay less if the wine was made by the winemaker associated with the female winemaker group. While this result was not consistent among the female respondents, it was more striking with the men, who wanted to pay up to 10-20 percent less for that vintner's wine.


“We show that the gender of the producer matters in wine valuation. Overall, our results suggest that male consumers express a lower [willingness to pay] for wines made by a winemaker from a female-only group of producers,” the researchers stated.


The researchers hypothesized that the consumers may be willing to pay the same for wines from “Georges” and “Nathalie” because they associated the wine with craftsmanship by an authentic artisan.


The analysts couldn’t explain why there was a different result when the respondents thought that the wine was made by a woman affiliated with a group of women. They suggested that the consumers were less familiar with female winemaker groups, which are relatively new, or that an association or partnership of women can be seen in negative stereotypes as political or activist, especially by male consumers.


The researchers recommended that there be more work in this area, including surveying consumers in other countries, reviewing how women in other wine industry roles affects customer satisfaction, and studying how consumers value the wines made by other minorities in the industry.


The study, entitled Willingness to pay for female-made wine: Evidence from an online experiment was published in the Journal of Wine Economics.


Note the Meaning – and the Irony – of the Study


The study is significant. The consumers wanted to pay less for wine because it's made by a woman, but the sex discrimination wasn’t automatic and absolute. The respondents were willing to pay the same amount for the wine whether it was made by “Georges” or “Nathalie.”


That’s the good news.


The bad news is that there was any sex discrimination against a winemaker who happened to belong to a group of female winemakers. Why this misperception that their wine should be cheaper, especially by men?


And while there have been a handful of articles on this study, none of them addressed the irony here. Why would female winemakers join a female vintner group to begin with?


Because, as female winemakers are still in the minority, they can turn to each other for networking, advice, and mentoring.


So the very reasons that some female winemakers may affiliate with female colleagues might turn out to hurt them because it could negatively impact the price they can charge for their wine.


That’s particularly disturbing, since no one was calling into question the quality of the wine. The women who join winemaker groups could be punished just for supporting each other.


Also, some may discount the effect of the gender bias because in the study the actual price reductions the respondents wanted were just a few Euros per bottle. I disagree. Those differences add up.

Sex Discrimination: Paying Less for Wine Made by a Woman

Unfortunately, the study results corroborate continued sexism in other areas of the male-dominated wine industry. While progress has been made after an uproar several years ago about rampant sexism in the wine industry bias still exists.


For instance, one 2023 survey found that female winemakers still earn considerably less than their male counterparts. Another 2023 report found that only one in 10 women in the alcohol beverage industry believe there has been significant positive change towards women in the past five years; about half reported some positive change. That still leaves fully one third of respondents believing there has been no change or that things have gotten worse.


What the study didn’t address is what to do about this apparent bias against female winemakers affiliated with other female winemakers. Better marketing? Different branding? Education?


So it’s not all doom and gloom. But wine consumers – and the wine industry – have some room for improvement here.


What do you think of this latest wrinkle in sex discrimination: paying less for wine because it's made by a woman? Are the results surprising? And what should be done about it? Send us a message at info@winewithourfamily.com. Always feel free to reach out to us with any questions or feedback.

 

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