Women In The Tequila Industry: Ana Valenzuela by M.A. “Mike” Morales

ana valenzuela, tequila, tequila aficionado

We continue our Women In The Tequila Industry series with arguably the most recognizable Tequila Boss Lady in the business–

Dr. Ana Valenzuela.

Apart from her many accomplishments (briefly summarized in our article, Tequila Boss Ladies), Ana is also the founder of Signo Tequila, a non-profit organization established in 2007 and dedicated to educating the public about tequila, agave conservation and Mexican cultural  products.

Encompassing nearly 20 years of her personal research, Signo Tequila encourages agave plant conservation projects in Mexico and sustainable agricultural training.  Blue agave genetic research and resources are the most important projects in development with the aid of participating agave farmers in Mexico.

In sharp contrast to Ana Maria Romero Mena, and similar to Cecilia Norman, Dr. Valenzuela pulls no punches when it comes to voicing her opinions about her concerns on the Tequila Industry.

 

[Editor's note:  For the convenience of our interviewee and our Spanish speaking audience, this article is in both English and Spanish.]

***

TA:  How would you describe your experiences as a high ranking woman in your position in a primarily male dominated industry?

(¿Cómo describiría sus experiencias como una mujer de alto rango en su posición en una industria dominada principalmente masculina?)

AV:  My experiences in the industry have been favorable [enough] to spur me onto the challenge.  This has helped me to have great dedication, discipline and concentration in my scientific work, in my career and in the advances I’ve obtained in the conservation of the genetic resources of blue agave, my greatest dream that I have yet to realize.

The majority of the agriculturalists [agave growers] have been my greatest allies.  The misogynistic attitudes are probably more observed in middle and upper levels of tequila organizations with a large lag [gap] like modern organizations in which women are treated equally.  No doubt, other industries in different sectors of Mexico and in other countries are inequitable [unfair].  The Tequila Industry isn’t the only one with this unfavorable characteristic.

La Diosa Mayahuel (Photo by Alberto Ramirez)

La Diosa Mayahuel (Photo by Alberto Ramirez)

(Mis experiencias en la industria han sido favorables para incitarme al reto.  Eso me ha ayudado a tener una gran dedicación, disciplina y concentración en mi trabajo científico, en mi carrera y en los avances que he obtenido en la conservación de recursos genéticos de agaves azules, mi gran sueño a realizar.

(La mayoría de los agricultores han sido mis grandes aliados.  Las actitudes misóginas probablemente se observan entre los mandos altos e intermedios de los organismos del tequila, con un gran rezago como organizaciones modernas en las que se traten igualitariamente a las mujeres.  Sin duda otras industrias en otros sectores de México y en otros países son inequitativos, no solamente la Industria del Tequila tiene esta característica desfavorable.)

TA:  How have you been able to change things within your industry?

(¿Cómo han sido capaces de cambiar las cosas dentro de su industria?)

AV:  My work with agaves is my religion, my diversion [enjoyment] and my science.  The first book of blue agave and its agriculture, as well as the knowledge [awareness] of agaves tequileros, among others, are my contributions that have yet to change many things.  In the near future, the great change to promote will be the planting of my hybrids of the blue agave variants that will change the negative history of genetic erosion.  This change has required more than 20 years of constant work.

(Mi trabajo con agaves es mi religión, mi diversión y mi ciencia.  El primer libro de agave azul y su agricultura, asi como el conocimiento de los agaves tequileros -entre otros- son mis aportes que aun están por cambiar muchas cosas…  En el futuro cercano el gran cambio a promover es la plantación de mis híbridos de las variantes de agave azul que cambiará la historia negativa de la erosión genética.  Este cambio ha requerido mas de 20 años de trabajo constante.)

TA:  What do you see as the future of women working within the Tequila Industry?

(¿Qué ves como el futuro de las mujeres que trabajan en la industria del Tequila?)

AV:  I see a future that is more equitable in the professional scope.  For the future of women in the tequila industry to be egalitarian [equal] in opportunities, there has to be congruent [consistent] actions of solidarity among vulnerable groups of women in the industry.

(Yo veo un futuro mas equitativo en el ámbito profesional.  Para que el futuro de las mujeres en la industria del tequila sea igualitario en oportunidades, hay que tener acciones congruentes de solidaridad con grupos vulnerables de mujeres en la industria.)

TA:  What things would you like to see changed?

(¿Qué cosas gustaría cambiado?)

AV:  Less industrial mass production and less contamination.

(Menos producción masiva e industrial y menos contaminación.)

TA:  Is there anything you’d like to say to women who may be contemplating entering and working in the Tequila Industry in one form or another?

(¿Existe algo que le gustaría decir a las mujeres que pueden estar contemplando entrar y trabajar en la industria del Tequila en una forma u otra?)

AV:  Intergenerational solidarity [of gender] and to take great challenges [risks] to realize great achievements not just in favor of the industry, but for Mexico.

(Solidaridad intergeneracional de género y tomar grandes retos para realizar grandes proezas, no solamente a favor de la industria sino de México.)

 

Follow Ana Valenzuela on Facebook.  See also Tequila Heritage on Facebook.

Follow Signo Tequila on Twitter @SignoTequila.

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M.A. “Mike” Morales is the CEO of Tequila Aficionado Media and America’s premier tequila journalist, blogging and reporting exclusively on the trends, producers, insiders, and hottest brands in the tequila industry today.

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