FARMING IS a great career choice for women, with many hugely positive about the benefits it would offer as a career, according to the results of a nationwide survey commissioned by Farmers Weekly and Barclays, which reveals 91% of women are optimistic about the future role of women in agriculture.
The survey, in which more than 2000 men and women shared their views, making it the largest-ever insight into this much-debated subject in the UK, showed much has changed compared with a generation ago, with only 4% of women considering it harder for females entering the industry now compared with when they joined.
About two thirds of women suggested that in terms of pay/benefits and daily work routines, they're treated mostly or always equally to men. When asked to predict what the equal opportunities situation would be like in 10 years time, this figure rose to 87%.
NFU deputy president Minette Batters said: "There are many more women coming into agriculture, judging by the number of women in agricultural colleges and universities. There are also many more opportunities to be involved in farming-related businesses and jobs within the industry that don't mean you have to acquire land.
"We have also seen women take some very top jobs in the past decade, including Country Land and Business (CLA) Director General Helen Woolley and the Groceries Code Adjudicator Christine Tacon. They were not appointed because they were women but because they were the best people for the job."
Farmers Weekly Editor Jane King said: "This debunks the myth that farming is an old-fashioned industry where stereotypes prevail. It’s an exciting and progressive job and should be uppermost among the careers that young women consider when they leave school, college and university. "
"The survey also shows the incredibly varied role that women of all ages currently play on farms – yes, they still undertake many of the household and office tasks, but are increasingly involved in all aspects of the business.
"There are, however, still some areas where agriculture has work to do to catch up. When it comes to succession, for example, 61% of women thought they were rarely or never treated equally compared to their male counterparts."
Barclays National Agriculture Specialist Oliver McEntyre said: "These findings indicate that the role of women in the agricultural community is changing. Women are actively choosing careers in farming and are incredibly optimistic about their future careers in this sector. They are taking on more roles and responsibility on the farm than ever before, from the manual labour side of farming through to the business strategy and marketing.
"The value of women and the impact they have in the agricultural industry is huge. The number of women involved in UK farming has been growing over recent years, and we anticipate it will continue to rise."
About the Survey
The Farmers Weekly survey, sponsored by Barclays, was open to UK residents working on farm and 2000 men and women responded.
The survey asked such questions as whether women have dispensed with "traditional" roles; how they influence strategic decision-making and whether they feel they have more opportunities than their parents generation.