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Image library tackles gender bias in whisky

The OurWhisky Foundation has launched a free collection of stock photos to address ‘outdated stereotypes’ of whisky drinkers, with the backing of 11 drinks companies.

Women drinking whisky
The project aims to achieve gender equality in the whisky industry

The globally available stock image library, called Modern Face of Whisky, aims to improve the diversity of whisky drinkers portrayed in the media.

The move aims to eliminate ‘outdated stereotypes’ by depicting stock imagery of women and people of all genders, races and ages consuming the spirit.

The project is also being supported by 11 companies in the drinks industry: Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Diageo, Edrington, Distill Ventures, Glenfiddich, Glenmorangie, Heaven Hill, The Glenlivet and Whyte & Mackay.

The industry, including media and content creators, can assess the library through the OurWhisky Foundation website and free stock imagery platforms Pixabay, Unsplash and Pexels.

OurWhisky Foundation founder Becky Paskin said: “As a journalist myself, I’ve long been frustrated by the absence of gender diversity in available whisky imagery.

“Many of those currently available to the media are not representative of today’s whisky drinkers, preserving the false stereotype of whisky being a drink only enjoyed by men.

“This [is] despite a growing number of women enjoying whisky, and many of the world’s most respected distillers and blenders being female.

“Increasing the availability of free stock images means that those working with even the tightest of budgets can still find appropriate and inclusive images to use.”

Paskin hopes the stock image library will serve as a “much-needed catalyst for change” and achieve gender equality in the industry.

According to a Distill Ventures study of US and UK drinkers cited by OurWhisky, women make up 36% of all whisky consumers.

A 2020 report by the foundation also found 228% more images of men than women across the social media channels of the world’s largest whisky brands. It also found that 82% of people-focused posts featured men, while only 36% included women.

Laura Stanley, Pexels chief operating officer, said: “Globally the association of whisky tends to be geared toward older, white men, when the reality is whisky is enjoyed by many. So long as the imagery available continues to perpetuate these stereotypes, that’s what we’ll continue to believe.

“As a free stock photo community, this is the kind of imagery we aim to amplify. The more imagery we have like this, the more it gets used and seen in everyday life. Ideally, changing those perceptions and stereotypes.”

‘Evolve the narrative’

Australian photographer Jo Hanley, who has shot photos for the Scotch industry, was behind the library’s first collection of images.

“Being a female photographer, it became strikingly obvious that I was often the only woman involved in a project and the images that were being created always had a masculine lean to the art direction,” she noted.

Hanley joined the project to “evolve the narrative of the whisky drinker and introduce female leads into the whisky story”.

She continued: “Ultimately, I hope the images go some way to highlighting the fact that whisky has no gender bias, that it is created and enjoyed by women globally and that to exclude women in the visual narrative is only telling half the story.”

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