There’s an idea that craft beer is dominated by men, mostly with beards, beanies, and an affinity for plaid flannel. It’s a stereotype that’s partially grounded in fact: as of last year, men made up about 69 percent of craft beer drinkers, and though that breakdown is changing, women still make up less than a third of brewery workers nationwide. The past few years might have also seen pushback against the concept of the “girly drink,” but the idea persists somehow that men know beer and women sip cocktails.
Which all might be why, according to a new study from Stanford University, people tend to think men make better beer. Researchers asked almost 300 participants to rate a beer based on its label. In one condition, the label said the brewer’s name was Sarah, and it briefly mentioned her brewing career; in another, the label was the same, save for a name and pronoun swap. The participants rated the beer higher when it seemed to be made by David, than if it were brewed by Sarah.
“Our research suggests that customers don’t value and are less inclined to buy traditionally male products if they think they’ve been manufactured by women,” Shelley J. Correll, a researcher at Stanford University, said in a statement. “There’s an assumption that your woman-made craft beer, screwdriver, or roof rack just won’t be as good.”
To identify those “traditionally male products,” researchers had participants rate products on a scale of “very masculine” to “very feminine,” and found that hand tools, roof racks, and car parts skewed the most masculine, while high heels, moisturizer, and baking mix leaned feminine.
Researchers tried the same premise but with a feminine-leaning food: a cupcake label. Since participants didn’t rate those terribly differently, researchers concluded that women-made products might just suffer from disadvantages in perception across the board. “We’ve looked at craft beer and cupcakes, but this could extend to any type of product from academic research to entrepreneurship,” Correll said.
When it comes to beer, at least, they did find an interesting variable: awards. If the woman-brewed label claimed to be an award winner, people rated the beer higher; that effect didn’t apply to the beer presumed to be man-brewed. None of this, they found, applied to people who said they’d been called “beer snobs,” for whom all the beers ranked pretty evenly, since they likely focused on more specific characteristics.
Hey, maybe there is a good reason to get really, really, annoyingly into all those niche IPAs after all.