Bridgette Baker: Time for women to get in the (tractor) driving seat

Don’t get me wrong, I love being driven by a boy in his twin-cab tractor. Who doesn’t?

The last time I went to a tractor run, there were so many girls in passenger seats, myself included, with boys in the drivers’ seats, I almost felt guilty of being a stereotype.

Images of women farming are becoming common – a massively noticeable change to me – as there were few to no women visible in farming as I was growing up.

See also: Bridgette Baker – ploughing match good for community spirit

As a woman in agriculture, the biggest thing you can do to support fellow female farmers is get stuck in and be visible in the sector.

About the author

Bridgette Baker
Somerset young farmer Bridgette Baker hails from a mixed beef and arable farm near Yeovil, and studies agriculture at the Royal Agricultural University. An enthusiastic member of her local Young Farmers Club, Bridgette keeps her own Oxford Sandy and Black pigs and works her family’s farm rearing calves.
Read more articles by Bridgette Baker

Second thing is to be happy for one another when someone succeeds, rather than a bit jealous (another thing I can be guilty of).

At 16, I started studying agriculture at Hartpury College thinking I couldn’t get a practical job in farming.

I imagined an office or advisory role would be best for me, rather than being in the thick of it, driving tractors and handling livestock.

The good news is my perspective has changed.

Meeting college mates who are smashing it in the dairy, sheep, arable and pig sectors, coping with the pressure and workload that brings, helps you believe you can, too.

At home, my dad and granddad naturally treat me like a princess, so when I started working on other farms where I was managed the same as all the employees, it taught me so much about my capabilities and the realities of farming.

I find talking through farm-work struggles with young farmer friends helpful, as many are happy to share advice.

There are lots of welcoming people who don’t bat an eyelid over gender, sexuality or race when they see someone walking round the yard or driving a tractor.

We are now in an era when agriculture classrooms are becoming more diverse compared with the majority being white British male students.

So tell women around you they are doing a great job. And as more tractor runs come up in the calendar supporting charities – such as #willdoes in the Kingston Maurward tractor run on 11 December 2021 – maybe girls could source their own tractor to represent women in their college, Young Farmers’ Club and community.