How much has changed for women in agriculture ?

Posted: Sunday March 7 2021

By: Guest Blogger

How much has changed for women in agriculture ?

By Sarah Richardson

#IWD2021  For International Women’s Day 2021 I have been thinking (mostly while mucking out) about how much has changed for women in agriculture and how we can now #ChooseToChallenge

Twenty five years ago I worked for the local agricultural supplier, a job came up in the transport department.  I was fortunate that I was promoted to the job.  Before I started I was invited in to the General Manager’s Office and told that ‘no woman had ever held that job and that I had to understand that there would be no further promotion’.  That conversation seemed acceptable then, twenty five years on, if I was told that now I would have a very different response #ChooseToChallenge

Roll forward 25 years and so much has changed for the better.  We have been fortunate to have the BBC’s This Farming Life promoting women in farming.  Amiee @aimeeeb6 and Kirsty Budge, farming in the Shetlands and the last season saw inspirational farmer Joyce Campbell @armadalefarm who runs a 5,500 acre hill farm on the north coast of Sutherland, Scotland.  Along with the amazing Amanda Owen @AmandaOwen8 who continues to astound me with what she achieves on a daily basis and the fact she puts her eyeliner on, #respect.   All of these positive role models have helped incredibly with making women in agriculture a norm not a novelty.  We no longer get the look at the livestock market and the majority of sales reps no longer ask ‘is your husband in, love’ but there is always more to do.

There is a brilliant network of women in farming both physical and on the internet.  Ladies Who Lamb is a Facebook group set up by a Mother and Daughter sheep farmers, with a buddy map, you can identify sheep farmers who are physically nearby should some actual help be needed.  With over 9k members there is usually someone up who can answer questions, sometimes at 3am, alone with a difficult lambing we all need a ‘friend’.

We also need to recognise the men in our lives, who have supported and believed we could.  We start lambing in a few weeks and when it’s a difficult lambing, and it all feels a bit hopeless, I think back to my Father-in-Law, sadly no longer with us, he used to say to me ‘always keep on going, you might feel it isn’t working but you are making more progress than you think’.  I think that probably applies to life.  ‘keep on going, you ARE making more progress than you think’.

So in this lockdown #IWD2021 I would like all women in agriculture to be proud of how far we have come and think what we can do to #ChooseToChallenge so that we ensure we inspire and encourage our fellow ladies who farm.

Sarah Richardson


Sheep Farmer

North Yorkshire

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