In Canberra this week, in celebration of International Rural Women’s Day, 10 leading ladies of agriculture graduated from a five-month mentoring program.
The 2019 cohort of the National Farmers’ Federation-led Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program was selected from about 140 applicants and got together for the first time in Canberra during May.
Since then the women have worked with their mentors to identify their leadership goals and hone how they can contribute to agriculture’s strategic future.
The program is the initiative of the NFF’s first female President, Fiona Simson, who is committed to increasing the number of women in the sector’s leadership ranks.
“Currently, women comprise 41% of the agricultural workforce but make up only 18% of management roles and 2.3% of CEO positions,” Fiona said.
“This is out of step with other comparable industries and is a statistic that the NFF and our committed program Partners are determined to rectify.”
At the morning tea event at Parliament House, ABC reporter Brett Worthington, led the group in a discussion on the challenges and the opportunities for women in leadership in agriculture.
The group raised access to child care; paid work versus unpaid work and cultural change as some of the barriers for women in the sector.
Graduate, Alison Southwell, a University lecturer, said it was vital to lead by example.
“I‘ve chosen to bring my small daughter to lectures with me when she has been unwell, because I think it’s important to demonstrate to everyone in the class, that life can be messy.
In its second year, the Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program is supported by 21 organisations from across business and Government who have each pledged to make ‘meaningful change’ towards gender diversity within their organisations.
The NFF has a goal to double the number of women in agriculture’s leadership positions by 2030, as part of it’s vision for the sector to be valued at $100 billion by that time.
“Women must be equally represented at the level where decisions are taken that shape the future of our industry and rural and regional Australia more broadly,” Ms Simson added.