A piece in today’s Times:
Quotas to boost the representation of women in farming will be considered if the industry fails to root out institutional “sexism and prejudice”.
A government report said that female farm workers were shunned, discriminated against and marginalised because of an entrenched culture of “outdated attitudes and behaviours”.
“Women spoke of their role not being recognised, being overlooked and excluded,” it said. “They recounted instances of being excluded from agricultural dinners and awards and being asked to leave meetings. Women, even those who were confident, did not feel they were being taken seriously.”
Compiled by the women in agriculture task force, set up by Nicola Sturgeon as part of the Scottish government’s drive for gender equality in business, the report called on the industry to “deliver cultural change through practical action” and said that sanctions could not be ruled out if significant progress were not made.
An inherent gender bias within the industry meant women were unlikely to succeed if they stood for leadership positions, it was said. The report said: “An increased number of women in leadership positions is expected within five years but at that point, if success is not evident, other measures such as quotas should be considered.”
It found that the “cultural practice” of passing on farms, crofts and smallholdings to eldest sons was the biggest single barrier to women’s entry into farming, and suggested that financial inducements should be considered to encourage farmers away from patrilineal inheritance.
The task force called for women-only training courses and said that moves should be made to improve childcare in rural areas.
The first minister said the report confirmed that cultural change was both necessary and overdue. “Scottish agriculture cannot afford not to include and involve women’s talents more fully and equitably,” she said.
Joyce Campbell, co-chairwoman of the task force, said: “A working life in agriculture is already a demanding one without the additional barriers of sexism and prejudice. By supporting women to realise their full potential we will create a fairer and more successful industry.”
Fergus Ewing, the rural economy secretary, said: “It is neither acceptable not business savvy for agencies, organisations and businesses operating in Scottish agriculture today to be effectively male only.”
You can subscribe to The Times here.
Our last general election manifesto is here.
Our YouTube channel is here.
If everyone who read this gave us £5.00 – or even better, £5.00 or more, monthly – we could change the world. £5.00 monthly would entitle you to Bronze party membership, details here. Benefits include a dedicated and signed book by Mike Buchanan. Click below to make a difference. Thanks.