Why are there more women than men on sensory panels?

Posted on 4 April, 2017

Our SensorExpertLab, which has two sensory panels, is one of the elements that adds the greatest value to our work as sensory consultants for food and beverage products.  At Sensory Value, all our expert panel members are women. Is there a reason for this?

Although machines are considered to be analytical tools that can be calibrated with a lot of training, they will never replace the work of sensory panel members. These experts are professionals with greater sensory sensitivity than others, which means they can distinguish organoleptic touches that are imperceptible to others. Identifying and managing products’ sensory characteristics in an optimal way is what makes a product a winner.

Sensory Value’s two panels are made up of a group of expert judges, all of whom are women. The reason for this seems to point to biology, as was suggested in a recent conference by the Institute of Food Science + Technology in the United Kingdom.

Some interesting information about the sensory differences between men and women:

  • The olfactory bulb in women has 43% more cells than in men

This was confirmed by a recent scientific study from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). It could therefore be said that this increased sense of smell in women is cognitive, rather than perceptive.

  • More men than women are colour blind

One in 10 men suffer from some sort of colour blindness, a pigment-related problem in some nerve cells in the eye that perceive colour. On the other hand, very few women are colour blind, making them more sensitive to colour.

  • Women have a more sensitive palate

A study by Yale University (United States) recently identified that women have more taste buds on their tongues than men. Furthermore, 35% of women are “supertasters”, perceiving tastes¾and especially bitter tastes¾more intensely, compared to 15% of men.

Although it seems that, according to the data, gender makes a difference, both men and women can be good sensory panel members because to do the job they require other essential characteristics, as well as good genetic predisposition.

Good panellists should, among other positively-valued skills, have the ability to verbalise and communicate, work as a team and pay attention to detail. They should also know that being a good sensory analysis professional requires practice, practice…and more practice.

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