In the early days of casino entertainment, the clientele was mainly men. There were exceptions of course, such as Poker Alice, who lived in the late 19th century Wild West with her husband, Frank Duffield. After his death, she became a dealer on the poker tables to make ends meet, but very soon developed a skill for beating the odds at this strategy game. Although women were allowed to gamble, very few did, and Alice was a rare sight at the tables with the men. She soon built a reputation for herself though, and on a good night could win as much as $6,000, which was even more impressive back in the 1890s.
'Poker Alice - Nathan Bergey vis Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Things have changed a great deal over the years though, and now it seems that women like to gamble as much as men.
However, where many men will still visit the racing track to bet on horse racing or go to a physical casino to play baccarat and poker, it seems that women are more into online gambling.
Online Casino Games Popular With Women
One game that was mainly played by women in physical buildings was bingo, and for years they frequented bingo halls which every city and town had. If there was not a dedicated bingo hall, they held games in the local church hall or community center a couple of times a week. It perhaps should be no surprise that it is the most popular game for women as well, with one recent survey showing that for around 60% of women it is their first choice. Slots are also very popular with females too, although they are beaten into third place by sports betting.
When it comes to games such as roulette and blackjack available at almost every casino online in different variants, such as French and American roulette, it seems that men are more likely to play them. However, among the women surveyed, although there were fewer of them playing, those that did had the edge over the men in the winning stakes.
'Bingo Sign' - David Goehring via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
The Effects of Age on Gambling
Where women and gambling are concerned, the younger generation tends to be more adventurous and steer clear of the more relaxed games such as bingo. They are far more like to enjoy sports betting or poker, some citing that they find bingo too slow.
The Accessibility of Online Casinos
Being able to play in online casinos has made gambling more accessible for women, as they can play any time of day or night wherever they are. Those who have children don't need to find babysitters for the children or be home early because they have to get the kids to school the next day. Any pastime that women can enjoy at home when they have a family to care for is inevitably going to be popular, and online casinos fit the bill perfectly.
In these days of gender equality, you would not think that any of this would matter. However, you have to remember that there are many women who stay at home by choice. For some of those online casinos have become a hobby that gives them many hours of fun.
I walk into a room full of men and I know exactly what they're thinking: "What does she know about whisky?"
I know this because many men have asked me that same question from the moment I started my career in spirits a decade ago.
In a male-dominated industry, I realized early on that I would always have to work harder than my male counterparts to prove my credibility, ability and knowledge in order to earn the trust of leadership stakeholders, coworkers, vendors and even consumers of our products. I am no stranger to hard work and appreciate that everyone needs to prove their worth when starting any career or role. What struck me however, was how the recognition and opportunities seemed to differ between genders. Women usually had to prove themselves before they were accepted and promoted ("do the work first and earn it"), whereas men often were more easily accepted and promoted on future potential. It seemed like their credibility was automatically and immediately assumed. Regardless of the challenges and adversity I faced, my focus was on proving my worth within the industry, and I know many other women were doing the same.
Thankfully, the industry has advanced in the last few years since those first uncomfortable meetings. The rooms I walk into are no longer filled with just men, and perceptions are starting to change significantly. There are more women than ever before making, educating, selling, marketing and conceptualizing whiskies and spirits of all kinds. Times are changing for the better and it's benefitting the industry overall, which is exciting to see.
For me, starting a career in the spirits business was a happy accident. Before spirits, I had worked in the hospitality industry and on the creative agency side. That background just happened to be what a spirits company was looking for at the time and thus began my journey in the industry. I was lucky that my gender did not play a deciding role in the hiring process, as I know that might not have been the case for everyone at that time.
Now, ten plus years later, I am fortunate to work for and lead one of the most renowned and prestigious Whisky brands in the world.. What was once an accident now feels like my destiny. The talent and skill that goes into the whisky-making process is what inspired me to come back and live and breathe those brands as if they were my own. It gave me a deep understanding and appreciation of an industry that although quite large, still has an incredible amount of handmade qualities and a specific and meticulous craft I have not seen in any other industry before. Of course, my journey has not been without challenges, but those obstacles have only continued to light my passion for the industry.
The good news is, we're on the right track. When you look at how many females hold roles in the spirits industry today compared to what it looked like 15 years ago, there has been a significant increase in both the number of women working and the types of roles women are hired for. From whisky makers and distillers to brand ambassadors and brand marketers, we're seeing more women in positions of influence and more spirits companies willing to stand up and provide a platform for women to make an impact. Many would likely be surprised to learn that one of our team's Whisky Makers is a woman. They might even be more surprised to learn that women, with a heightened sense of smell compared to our male counterparts, might actually be a better fit for the role! We're nowhere near equality, but the numbers are certainly improving.
It was recently reported by the Distilled Spirits Council that women today represent a large percentage of whisky drinkers and that has helped drive U.S. sales of distilled spirits to a record high in 2017. Today, women represent about 37% of the whisky drinkers in the United States, which is a large increase compared to the 1990s when a mere 15% of whisky drinkers were women. As for what's causing this change? I believe it's a mix of the acceptance of women to hold roles within the spirits industry partnered with thoughtful programs and initiatives to engage with female consumers.
While whisky was previously known for being a man's drink, reserved for after-dinner cigars behind closed doors, it is now out in the open and accessible for women to learn about and enjoy too.
What was once subculture is now becoming the norm and women are really breaking through and grabbing coveted roles in the spirits business. That said, it's up to the industry as a whole to continue to push it forward. When you work for a company that values diversity, you're afforded the opportunity to be who you are and let that benefit your business. Working under the model that the best brand initiatives come from passionate groups of people with diverse backgrounds, we are able to offer different points of view and challenge our full team to bring their best work forward, which in turn creates better experiences for our audience. We must continue to diversify the industry and break against the status quo if we really want to continue evolving.
While we've made great strides as an industry, there is still a lot of work to be done. To make a change and finally achieve gender equality in the workplace, both men and women need to stand behind the cause as we are better collectively as a balanced industry. We have proved that we have the ability to not only meet the bar, but to also raise it - now we just need everyone else to catch up.