Changing perceptions about women in ag

17 Aug, 2018 04:00 AM
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 Morawa farmer and Nuffield scholar Katrina Sasse farms with her sister and brother-in-law on the family's 10,000 hectare property at Canna, growing wheat, lupins and canola.
Morawa farmer and Nuffield scholar Katrina Sasse farms with her sister and brother-in-law on the family's 10,000 hectare property at Canna, growing wheat, lupins and canola.

MORAWA farmer and Nuffield scholar Katrina Sasse spoke to a receptive male-dominated audience at the recent Farm Machinery & Industry Association (FMIA) annual general meeting and conference.

Her comments on the challenges and opportunities for women in agriculture sparked a positive response from dealers keen to embrace women in all facets of machinery dealerships.

According to Ms Sasse, speaking “through the lens of a daughter in farming”, daughters have an image problem.

“They’re seen as daddy’s little girl who would make a farmer’s wife and be a mother, but not a real farmer,” she said.

“From birth, girls are not socialised to become farmers and are pigeon-holed into a stereotype.

“The perception is that boys are born farmers and girls will marry, so who can blame you for asking: ‘Do you have any sons to come back to the farm?’

“It’s an outrageous assumption because we need gender diversity in agriculture and for the family farm to be gender-neutral, where daughters get the opportunities to tinker with their dads and be taught about machinery and the farming enterprise.”

Ms Sasse gender equality for women included:

To receive a fair-go;

To have people talk business with them;

To take an equal share of responsibilities;

To be involved in decision-making;

To remain flexible and able to manage domestic and family responsibilities as a team.

She questioned whether there was an unconscious bias in the industry, citing an example of a female sales person struggling with the (male) perception that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about.

One dealer replied to that remark saying he had a female employee from a farm who was very competent with product knowledge.

Other dealers also commented about the competency of females they employ and expressed a willingness to employ more females, including as precision ag specialists.

Ms Sasse said her overall aim was to build awareness about women in agriculture and break down stereotypes.

FarmWeekly

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