Publication - Research and analysis

Acknowledging women in agriculture: taskforce progress report

Published: 21 Jun 2018
Agriculture and Rural Economy Directorate
Part of:
Farming and rural

Progress report of the Women in Agriculture Taskforce.

Acknowledging women in agriculture: taskforce progress report


In looking at training provision for women in agriculture the Taskforce are

focussed on the following recommendations:

  • Short courses designed for women new to farming to be made available.
  • Practical as well as financial and management training courses to be targeted at women.
  • Courses targeted at women to take into account their needs, including childcare.
  • Although the highest level of demand is for training in applying for grants, the research identified a clear need for more vocational, practical training for women entering agriculture. Over 200 survey respondents identified their interest in further training in each of: livestock husbandry, animal health, accounting, business entrepreneurship, large vehicle driving, environmental protection and legal compliance.
  • Existing Continuing Professional Development ( CPD) training is perceived as oriented towards men. Women, even women working in the agriculture sector, found attending CPD events daunting. About a quarter of survey respondents agreed that they would be uncomfortable at an agricultural training course because they are mostly attended by men.
  • Women working in the agriculture sector have access to CPD through their employment and they all find it useful for their farm. Those who ‘married in’ to the farm appeared to have less access to CPD. They said they would have particularly valued training soon after entering farming.
  • Both men and women recognised the particular implications for women of not receiving practical training. It cannot be assumed that women have the same exposure to on-the-job training growing up on the farm as men.

The following elements have been identified in the translation of the research report recommendations.

Mapping Out Learning and Development Provision for Farming and Agriculture Sector in Scotland

  • An audit of the profile of current training provision for the farming and agriculture sector in Scotland setting out the training delivery body, delivery and funding methods, as well as indication of accessibility through metric of take-up by gender ratio.

Learning and Development Needs Analysis

  • Assessment of learning and development needs for women in the farming and agriculture sector in Scotland. Findings will enable gap analysis against current provision, market demands and policy drivers.

Learning and Development Framework for Women in Agriculture

  • A Learning and Development Framework setting out the findings and recommendations of the Training workstream. Based on the pilots outlined below, and further research, the Taskforce is preparing recommendations for practical steps towards an inclusive, community-based training provision.

The Farming Advisory Service recently worked with the Taskforce to deliver a programme of women only knowledge transfer events from the Borders up to Orkney, with courses delivered in Aberdeenshire, Caithness, Inverness, Moray, Argyll and Lanark in Spring 2018. A range of topics were covered, from accounts and mental health awareness to diversification opportunities and the role of social media.

All events were well attended, often to full capacity. All 248 women participants were asked to provide a range of information relating to their farming and agriculture experience as well as learning and development requirements.

The Scottish Crofting Federation ( SCF) piloted four women-only practical, on-croft, training events, two on strained wire fencing and two on sheepdog handling. This followed on from feedback and research within an SCF training project that identified suitable interventions in terms of a female-only teaching model, using technology and appropriate timing of training to overcome attitudinal, situational, structural and systemic barriers that women encounter. The two days attracted 24 trainees and there is further demand for training from 800 women, many of whom have requested women-only training in practical skills courses.

It has become clear that soft and informal, yet structured networks, often originating from social encounters, are key to pulling together women with similar farming and agriculture business, interests, ambitions, challenges and desires to find solutions and learn.