In celebrating Queensland Women’s Week and International Women’s Day, we recognise the important roles women play in the state’s agriculture sector. The nature of family-farm agricultural production is that women make significant yet often unrecognised paid and unpaid contributions to agricultural businesses and communities – a contribution that can be undervalued by the women making it.
In a sector largely dominated by men, there has been a rise in the number of women working in agriculture. According to the Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES), 72,722 women were working in the sector in 2016, up from 68,514 five years earlier, now making up 32 per cent of the workforce. There is also a positive trend of women achieving qualifications in agriculture, including agricultural science, animal husbandry and wool science. This increased to 27,384 in 2016, up 23 per cent over five years.
However, the number of women in senior and management roles across agriculture is 10 percentage points below the total sector’s female workforce. The Queensland Farmers’ Federation (QFF) is actively looking to support and lead initiatives that will encourage more women to take up leadership roles to change this.
To support these efforts, QFF and industry members are encouraging women to take the next step and join the moment to improve their representation in the agriculture sector. By making their voices heard in industry forums, trade delegations and on social media, and getting involved in the various programs available for rural leaders to influence change. By joining in celebrating the positive and innovative contributions from women across the sector when the Queensland winner of the AgriFutures Rural Women’s Award being announced later this month. And by investing in the future of other aspiring female agricultural workers with mentoring and support. More women with merit and experience in leadership positions can only strengthen our sector and our state.