Advocacy: Looking to the Future of Women in Ag
By Bonnie Johnson, AgCareers.com
Promotion of our industry is strong; more than 90% of respondents to the AgCareers.com Gender Roles & Equality survey said they frequently advocate for the agricultural industry. Women felt that advocacy was one of the top three skills or characteristics they bring to the industry.
Mentorship may have a role in increasing advocacy, focusing on the positive aspects of our industry and encouraging involvement. Women in the survey reported having more male mentors than female mentors. We know that mentoring programs help build on employees’ skill sets and develop future leaders. Partnering accomplished female leaders with young women is a way to foster a workplace culture that focuses on gender equality.
“Mentorship is so important for women in our industry," says Iris Meck, Advancing Women in Ag Conference. "Agriculture can be very isolating since some jobs are a long way from the traditional office setting, or are geographically remote.” Conferences like Advancing Women in Ag brings women together to build a community based on shared experiences.
More than 70% of female respondents said women had made their presence known in agribusiness, but still 61% felt that women were not sufficiently represented.
Our research shows that women are looking for advancement opportunities and aspire to move up within the ranks. A significantly higher percentage of women than men in our survey aspired to move up to a higher level position one day.
Women responding to our survey were more confident about their ability to advance in agriculture than in other industries. Eighty-eight percent of women felt optimistic about their possibility to advance in the ag industry while only 56% were optimistic outside the ag industry.
Agriculture has stereotypically been viewed as a male-dominated industry, but U.S. data shows that women are outpacing men in agricultural bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Our survey agreed with this trend as we saw significantly more women than men with a Bachelor’s degree. We’ve seen tremendous growth in women’s interest in ag and women pursuing careers in the industry; 64% of survey respondents were female.
"There are so many opportunities for young women today who are pursuing a degree in agriculture," says Meck. "The industry has so many facets -- food, production, marketing, science, legal, human resources and more -- that if you are a young women looking to build a career in agriculture today, there are endless paths and many doors open to you.
As some employers still report a talent deficit in agriculture, we encourage your continued advocacy for careers in our industry for both women and men. Highlight the value of our industry by sharing all of the unique, exciting opportunities we have to feed, fuel and clothe the world’s population.