Lucy Nott: Bring on the female combine drivers

“If you can’t see it, you can’t be it.”

Theatre director Marianne Elliot is right – which is why campaigns like Farmers Weekly’s Level the Field are so important.

The more inclusive agriculture is to women and the more visible they are in it, the greater the likelihood that more women will join the industry.

See also: Lucy Nott: It’s been a year of rebuilding myself

About the author

Lucy Nott
Farmlife opinion writer
Lucy lives with her husband, a sixth-generation farmer, and their two children on a 100ha (250 acre) arable farm in Worcestershire. On the farm they have a passion for regenerative agriculture and aspire to transition to a regenerative system. They are also part of the Sustainable Farming Incentive pilot and are trialling lots of new things on the farm. They hosted their first LEAF Open Farm Sunday (LOFS) this year and Lucy is now the LOFS Ambassador for the West Midlands.
Read more articles by Lucy Nott

When I was growing up, there was little narrative about women in farming.

But things are changing and my daughter, Daphne, is growing up in a different world where women are represented in so many more industries and sports.

I was shocked when someone bought my son a plastic tractor toy and it came with a female driver, as opposed to the usual portly man with a checked shirt and brimmed hat.

This may seem trivial, but it makes all the difference to the impressionable minds of two young children.

If the children can’t sleep, my husband will tell them the “Big Blue Tractor Story” – which is just a description of a day’s harvest.

However, in the story Daphne drives the combine and Arthur-John drives the big blue tractor.

They will both proudly retell the story to any willing listeners (grandparents) and neither find the idea of Daphne driving the combine peculiar.

The notion of Daphne as a combine driver is then validated when they flick through the Farmers Weekly and see pictures of female machinery drivers.

They can beg to watch some videos on my phone and see female farming influencers. Plus, we now have females in farming represented in Tractor Ted videos.

There is more work to be done, but the impact these examples have had is already huge.

It is also important to recognise that the greater female representation in the industry does not just inspire young girls but, for both genders; it normalises men and women working alongside each other as equals.

This open discussion and familiarisation will help future workplaces be more approachable and welcoming for women.

Meanwhile, if someone could explain to my three-year-old daughter that she can’t actually drive the combine this year, that would be great…