Earlier this month we hosted our twelfth installment of The Dish series at ArtsRiot in Burlington's South End. The Dish is a collaborative “series for inquisitive eaters” organized by City Market and the Intervale Center to explore hot topics in the food world. For this installment, we looked at the role of women in the food industry with the help of Change the Story, a statewide organization focused on women's economic well-being.
Jessica Nordhaus of Change the Story moderated our panel discussion and provided an overview of her organization's findings with a focus on female business ownership and its economic impact on the state of Vermont. Among their findings were that 1/3 of all private businesses in Vermont are owned by women, creating 36, 326 jobs, and contributing over $2.2 billion in economic activity to the state. However, she also noted that women-owned businesses make 19 cents on the dollar that their male counterparts do.
While women participate in the labor force at about the same rate as men in Vermont (66% of women work with 75% of that number working full time), the gender wage gap in our state is a reality with women earning 16 cents less than men for every dollar they make. As part of their work to address the wage gap and issues of gender equity from a business perspective, Change the Story launched the Business Peer Exchange, a program that both City Market and the Intervale Center participate in. The program is defined as, “a group of dedicated businesses in Vermont working together to ensure women thrive in their workplaces.”
Throughout the evening, we explored the role of businesses and non-profit organizations in advancing gender equity in the workplace with our all-star lineup of panelists. Allison Hooper of Vermont Creamery, Beth Whiting of Maple Wind Farm, and Cara Chigazola-Tobin of Honey Road each represented a unique perspective on business ownership from the viewpoint of a farm, creamery, and restaurant respectively. In addition, Enid Wonacott of NOFA Vermont and Heather Newcomb of Vermont Works for Women provided insight into the work that their organizations do to support women in the agricultural and culinary fields.
We ended the evening with a Q & A session where we explored topics including addressing difficult experiences in the workplace, the role of men as allies in supporting gender equity, and the future for women in these fields. Interested in learning more about what you can do? Check out Change the Story’s list of 15 action items here. You can also download their reports here.
Missed the event? Check out the video recording here.