By: Anne-Marie Langan*
In Canada and globally women are underrepresented in fields related to agriculture, particularly in leadership roles. Currently, only 30% of farmers are women in Canada and only 25% of farm managers are female. Despite their lower numbers, according to recent statistics, many of our female farmers are sole operators and are over 55 years old.
There are many advantages to diversifying the agriculture industry, just as there are in any other industry. For one, female farmers tend to bring a perspective to the table that is more consumer-focused, in other words, "consumer-ready, consumer appreciated, consumer understood". They also tend to be more open to new, more environmentally friendly methods of farming that include a focus on organic produce and renewable energy sources.
Those women who have succeeded in farming report that they have experienced many obstacles along the way including a lack of time and work-life balance; stereotypes, sexism and discrimination; people questioning their credibility, a lack of confidence, difficulties in networking; and barriers in accessing capital and financing.
Some of the suggestions female farmers had for improving the success rate of future female farm entrepreneurs included:
- greater recognition of the value women bring to the agricultural industry
- increased opportunities for childcare
-educating male farmers and leaders about the benefits of greater diversity
- increase networking opportunities by building and growing more professional networks for female farmers like Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture
-increase access to training and financing for female farmers and women entrepreneurs
-scholarships and educational opportunities for young women interested in farming
Chen, Z. J., & Aclan, S. (2022, November 23). Female farm operator numbers increase for the first time in 30 years. Canadian Agriculture at a Glance. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/96-325-x/2021001/article/00013-eng.htm
Fletcher, Dr. A., Newton, C., & Grandy, Dr. G. (n.d.). Boosting Economic Growth: A Report on Women AG Entrepreneurship in Saskatchewan. https://www.uregina.ca/business/assets/about-us/WEKH/SK-Ag-Report.pdf
Influential Women in Agriculture. Influential Women in Canadian Agriculture. (n.d.). https://www.agwomen.ca/about/
Peterson, J. (2020, September 25). Women’s farming contributions gaining recognition, but gender parity still a ways off: U of Regina Report | CBC News. CBCnews. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/women-agriculture-report-1.5739839
Seskus, T. (2018, May 1). Women in Canada are choosing farming careers but barriers persist | CBC News. CBCnews. https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/women-farming-canada-1.4595436
Anne-Marie Langan B.A., B.S.W., LL.B., LL.M. is the project lead for the sexual violence projects at Peterborough Community Legal Centre, including the SHAPE project which provides legal advice and education for those experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace and the Your Way Forward project which provides support for those who have experienced intimate partner sexual violence. These projects are both sponsored by the government of Canada's. She can be reached directly at email@example.com.