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International Women's Day: A Conversation with Katrina Shabo

According to a 2019 report by the Brewers Association*, only about 7.5% of brewers are women while 37% hold non-production positions, such as sales, and 54% are employed as service staff.

It's evident that there's still work to be done in diversifying the craft beer industry, but women like Katrina Shabo, Director of Marketing of Wormtown Brewery, are proof positive that there's plenty of room at the table for woman in leadership roles.

Shabo's first foray in the industry was as a volunteer brewer on Martha's Vineyard. Since then, she's held a variety of positions in breweries across Massachusetts, from designer and bartender to sales and operations. On-boarding with Wormtown in 2016, she has led the brewery's marketing and branding efforts including the opening of a new taproom at Patriot Place in 2019 and the expansion of their Worcester footprint later this month (hear more about that from owner David Fields).

While she refuses to accept being "a woman in a man's world," Shabo admits that the double standards and stereotypes of women in the beer industry are frustrating. Assuming that a woman prefers flowery beers over stouts and sours or doesn't know as much about the science behind the beverage as her male counterparts is a misconception too often perpetuated. Katrina leans on her experience and knowledge to debunk such fallacies and is no longer laughing off insults aimed at discrediting her or other women.

Not only is Katrina redirecting the conversation about the portrayal of women in the field of craft beer, but she sets the bar as a role model for others. There weren't a lot of other women to look upon as an example or to seek advice from when she was starting out and, as that dynamic shifts, she aims to makes herself available to others.

When asked what advice she would give to a woman looking to break into the industry, she references Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and founder of LeanIn.Org. Men subscribe to the "fake it 'til you make it" idea and while Katrina believes in knowing and understanding as much about your company or industry as possible, including all the different jobs that go into creating the end-result, she agrees that women need to be more confident. Don't wait for someone to ask your opinion or invite you to a meeting. You've earned your position and there's nothing wrong with owning that.

As a new mom, Katrina's advice is even more profound. Women are often cornered into the concept that they must choose between career and motherhood. While she's still figuring out the delicate and so-called work-life balance, she's not afraid to speak up, own her feelings and assert herself. Fortunately, the brewery is a supportive work environment, no doubt due in large part to the culture she helps to foster.



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