Exclusive survey: Has working in ag become easier for women since 2014?

A landmark survey by Farmers Weekly has revealed that 60% of women believe “industry attitude” is preventing them from achieving their career goals – an increase from 52% when we conducted similar research in 2014.

Only commitments to children scored higher as an obstacle (75%), with a lack of self-confidence coming in a close third at 59%.

While some women in farming have no complaints about their career progression and the way they are viewed, many feel it is frequently an uphill battle to be recognised on their own merits.

See also: Read more about our Level The Field campaign

The study was carried out as part of a new Farmers Weekly campaign, Level The Field, which will seek to engage people and organisations across our industry to make agriculture fairer, more equitable and more inviting for women.

The research also showed drops in the number of women who believe they are treated equally in daily work routines (60% in 2024 versus 69% in 2014), pay and benefits (59% in 2024, 69% in 2014), overall farm business influence (46% in 2024, 69% in 2014) and succession (36% in 2024, 69% in 2014).

The most common reasons cited for this disparity were that women are seen as not physically strong enough, they are given fewer opportunities than men, and they are not listened to in a male-dominated industry.

About the survey

The 2024 survey was carried out in November and December 2023.

There were 1,970 female and male respondents. More than 2,000 responded to the 2014 survey. See the whole presentation at the bottom of this article.

One respondent said: “Working in dairy on many farms, I have been automatically pushed towards youngstock work because of my gender, as it’s seen as more of a maternal role.

“I feel that young men are invited to learn and carry out field work [such] as silaging, hay making etc. I have never once been considered or asked if this is a task I would like to do. Being female also sees me pushed to milk a lot more often than the men.”



Another spoke about the difficulties women face during succession, saying: “Daughters are overlooked; it’s still all about the next generation being boys.

“Many farming families are desperate for boys to take over the farm. Some have multiple children just to get a boy.”

Compared with 10 years ago, fewer men believe women are treated equally when it comes to overall farm business influence (75% in 2024, 83% 2014) and succession (61% in 2024, 83% in 2014).

But the number of men who believe women are treated equally in daily work routines stayed the same, at 83%, and more believe they are now treated equally on pay and benefits (86% in 2024, 83% 2014).

Men and women also had different views on how easy it is for women to enter agriculture today. A majority of both believe it is easier for women to join the industry now than when they made their start (60% of women and 76% of men), but men are far more likely to say it is “much easier” (39%) than women (19%).


Women are also more likely than men to think practical work, such as animal husbandry or tractor driving, is the greatest strength they add to farm businesses (49% of women, from 42% in 2014, compared with 37% of men, from 30% in 2014).

Although the number of men who view physical ability as one of the greatest obstacles women face in achieving their career goals has dropped since 2014 (47% to 31%), they are still more likely to see it as a barrier than women (47% to 24%).

Despite their strength in practical work, just under half of women said they could not use the machinery in their workplace with ease (43%), compared with just 15% of men.



Female respondents cited a lack of training and interest in using the machinery, as well as the challenges faced in using equipment designed for men.

One said: “Some farmers aren’t willing to put in the time and effort to teach you how to use all the equipment. I also feel like everything I work with was made by men for men.

“For example, the telehandler accelerator pedal is too long, the creep feeder is too high and many things are too heavy for easy use.”

By contrast, the men who said they could not use machinery were most likely to say this was because technology had made it overcomplicated, they had no time to learn, or didn’t have enough practice.


There was, however, lots of optimism about the future for women in agriculture from men and women alike.

More people today would recommend a career in agriculture to a young woman than in 2014, with the Net Promoter Score up from -6 to +14.

One respondent said: “The more women that join agriculture, the more of a voice and power we have. Agriculture is an amazing industry to work in, and all genders should be able to be part of it.”

There was more good news on the number of women who felt they had the appropriate influence they wanted on farm, with three-quarters stating they did.

This was, however, exactly the same number as 10 years ago and left 25% of women saying they did not feel they had appropriate influence, far more than their male counterparts (8%).

For women, gender bias was cited as the greatest reason their influence was restrained (59%), a significant jump from 25% in 2014. Lack of self-confidence came in second at 45% (up from 28% in 2014).

Men, meanwhile, said the biggest constraints on their influence were financial (48%, up from 18% in 2014) and time-related (39%, up from 11% in 2014).

On workplace culture, a huge 85% of women and 95% of men said their workplace culture was healthy, in terms of being inviting for women.

But more men were likely to describe the culture as “very healthy” than women (46% for men against 37% for women), and women were more likely to say it was “unhealthy” than men (13% for women versus 4% for men).


Level The Field

Huge strides forward have already been made for women in farming over the past few decades, but problems still remain, such as:

  • Low land ownership rates among women
  • Resulting difficulty in accessing private finance or government support
  • Difficulties in using equipment/work clothing/on-site facilities designed for men
  • Lack of access to flexible working for childcare or other family needs
  • Low representation in representative farming organisations at the highest levels
  • Being overlooked for succession
  • Being subjected to prejudice either on farm or at farming events.

Level the Field will seek to shine a light on these problems and offer solutions to them.

The main part of the campaign will centre on practical support for farm business owners – both men and women.

See more on our Level the Field page.






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