A Gender Shift – How Women in Agriculture are a Driving Force in Industry Change
This blog was one of the more difficult to write, as it touches on a subject that I am not well versed.
Growing up the gender gap in agriculture was significant, and this led to many assumptions and notions that I now know are far from true. Spending the last three months touring the country on a speaking tour with three women highly involved in agriculture and its many voices, has pushed me to write this on International Women’s Day.
When I was young, many strong women in my life were not highly involved in the operations of the farm. They were integral in keeping the operation moving forward, and making sure the family life was secured, but it was not common practice to see them in the seat of the combine. This is obviously a high generalization based on my experiences, but truthfully, it was how I saw it.
Today, I now see the actual truth – that women in agriculture have always been there.
At Farmer Coach we have toyed around with numerous ideas on how to attract an equal number of women and men to the coaching program. We have even went as far as to have these discussions with some of the industries’ strongest female producers and influencers on how they would go about it (I find others have better viewpoints than myself on numerous topics).
It’s encouraging to see that we have numerous producer operations that are being run by
women at the CEO and management levels. Many are highly progressive, fast growing, and what I would consider part of the top 25% of farms in Western Canada. In many aspects, they mirror our own operation and how we see the future of agriculture.
But farm management is only one of many important roles. Many of the individuals I have talked and networked with lately have a different view on how they contribute to the industry. Whether through podcasts, influencer status, or other methods of “telling our story,” a large
majority of the individuals fighting for agriculture and its values are in fact women. They have different views when it comes to the legacy of farms and they provide a much better story than the usual bias of “get your hand dirty.” This isn’t to say they don’t, but they seem to have a better way of communicating the farming story to our non-agriculture peers.
To further the conversation, we also had a number of women in the first Farmer Coach sessions
launched back in November. Whether owners of their own operations or holding integral roles in the farm, we found that the conversations were no different. The business of farming does not distinguish between gender, so why should the industry? Some of the strongest leaders right now in both primary producer agriculture and the industry as a whole, continue to be female. My opinion has always been “the right person in the right role.”
The reason I love agriculture is that there are a multitude of opportunities that, in all honesty, require numerous individuals to step forward. But based on my most recent observations, the future is bright in agriculture as more women become that driving force for industry change.