The role of women in farming is changing. Or is it? By how much – and in what ways – is much-debated. Now your views can help shape a piece of research that will shed light on the topic.
A couple of generations ago, the gender divide on farms was clear cut. Men went out to work on the land, women maintained the home and brought up the family. For right or for wrong, that was fairly universal.
But the past few decades have seen roles change across society (admittedly, not quickly enough, according to some) and this has been echoed in the countryside.
People have embraced new attitudes and working practices have changed, meaning agriculture is very different to 50 years ago.
But what exactly is the role of women on farms nowadays?
Anecdotal evidence suggests many are carrying out functions once almost exclusively done by men. In some instances, they’re taking the lead on farms – perhaps even having inherited businesses.
Supporting women in farming
Barclays Agriculture has more than 250 years of experience supporting UK farming, with a dedicated team of more than 100 experienced agricultural managers supporting customers and their ambitions both today and for future generations. The contribution women make to the success of farming enterprises has always been appreciated but often unheard, therefore Barclays Agriculture is delighted to sponsor this research and, for the first time, highlight the value and impact women contribute to the industry.
Even those who aren’t engaged full-time with the business may be far more involved with decision-making than their mother’s generation. Many have been the driving force behind successful diversifications and also now work off the farm, either full or part-time.
But we want to establish a more precise picture so Farmers Weekly and Barclays are launching a nationwide survey which will give us a comprehensive insight into the working life of contemporary women, plus the opportunities they have and the challenges they face.
This is a chance for everyone to share their views on career opportunities for women – are they widespread and rewarding or limited and problematic; have women, in fact, dispensed with “traditional” roles; how much influence do they have in strategic decision-making; and do they consider their lot is better – or worse – than their parents’?
Farmers Weekly editor Jane King says: “Every week I meet inspiring women who are pursuing successful careers in farming and the ancillary industries. But how much has the situation really changed from a few decades ago? This is a topic that’s frequently debated in farmhouse kitchens and village pubs, but we want to establish the facts.
“This survey is a chance for you to celebrate the successes of women and, if you see fit, share your worries and gripes about the obstacles and difficulties they face.
“It feels like the perfect time to be doing this research – and you could even win £1,000 by contributing. We’d like men as well as women to complete the survey – we’ll then be able to analyse the data by gender, which will in itself be telling.”
Oliver McEntyre, Barclays National Agricultural Specialist says: “You only have to look back two or three decades to see the vast majority of agricultural work involved hard, heavy labouring. The advances in machinery and technology have changed the way many farms now operate.
“Tasks that once took a full day and several people can now be done far more quickly and efficiently by one person with the right equipment.
“The emphasis in modern agriculture is now, more often than not, on skill rather than strength.
“The impact of women in agriculture is significant, from business administration and management to day-to-day work and, while this has always been known, Barclays Agriculture felt it was time to try and quantify and put some value on their input.
“Therefore, it is important to take part in this survey to enable our industry to look more deeply, perhaps for the first time, into the contribution of women in agriculture.”
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to share your opinions and build a picture of the role of women in farming.
We’d like men as well as women to complete the survey
How to take part
Taking part is quick and simple – and completing the survey could even win you £1,000. Click here to fill in the survey.