Our Goal: To Level The Field in AG
Between 1996 and 2016, the Census of Agriculture saw a 3% increase in the proportion of farm operators who were women. However, this positive trend masks the reality that the sector is still heavily male-dominated, with only 28.7% of farm operators being women, the total number of women farming declining by 20% over that same time period, and significant contributions from women across the sector remaining unpaid and/or unrecognized. Statistics on farm operators themselves likely fail to account for the breadth of women hold on-farm management responsibilities, if not labeled as such.
This is a concern for a sector that is primed for continued, strong growth, while facing constraints due to labour shortages and concerns around public trust that, in many respects, both reflect regressive images of the sector and its opportunities. At the same time, the research is clear, companies that promote and reflect gender diversity are more likely to outperform industry averages in financial returns, innovation, adaptability, growing their labour force, and critically in the retention and attraction of customers due to enhanced public trust. When viewed at a sector-level, the economic implications of women’s underrepresentation alone present a compelling case to focus attention on this critical issue. However, for thousands of women whose contributions to the sector continue to go unacknowledged, who face challenges in operating their businesses successfully or access capital because of traditional gender stereotypes, or who lack visible role models, there are very real social and mental health facets to agriculture’s continued male-dominance as well.
Most women face an exhausting reality of dealing with gender barriers every day. It consumes time, resources, and energy they otherwise would be free to dedicate to their work and other sector achievements which would benefit them, their operation, and the sector generally. For others, those barriers are reasons to not enter the sector or to leave the sector entirely.
Our goal is to #LeveltheFieldinAG
“Women in agriculture are strong. And just because they can overcome gender barriers, doesn’t mean they should have to. I am dedicated to doing everything I can, to level the field.”– Karolyn Godfrey
There isn’t a gender divide in the work ethic or capacity to farm.
There isn’t a gender divide in one’s ability to learn to milk cows, farm chickens, plow a field, to seed or to cultivate crops.
So why is there still a gender divide in the roles, opportunities, expectations, and experiences that women face in farming .
Project lead, Karolyn is the owner of Winding Path Inc., where she provides leadership, collaborative problem-solving, and management training, as well as strategic coaching services. She has created and led multi-year provincial and national projects focused on gender equality and diversity. She is a CMHA Certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor for workplaces.
What can we do right now to make a difference?
* Join a local Agricultural organization and take on leadership roles to recruit and retain women in the sector.
* Find a mentor or become one , providing a pathway for recruitment and support for those already in the sector.
* Share your experiences and be open about the challenges you or others around you have faced, so other women feel less isolated and understand it is not just them.
Level The Field
Like all growing industries, empowerment of all genders will lead to better communities, better work and better end results.
Together, we can continue to grow, support, and respect all farmers in our communities.
Farmers of all genders working together in the greater agricultural community will bring us to a future where we are utilizing a wider range of our community resources to provide the food necessary to feed Canadians across the country.
Together, we CAN Level the Field.