Women in agriculture - implementing equality commitments: research report

Main findings from an evidence review and case-study research carried out to explore effective ways of bringing about greater gender equality within Scottish agricultural businesses. The research was designed to gather evidence on gender equality initiatives and their effectiveness within business of different sizes in male-dominated industries.

6 Recommendations

Industry-based organisations and Scottish Government should work together to increase awareness, support and networking in agriculture and help businesses to access expertise and guidance.

Businesses should improve their knowledge and understanding of equalities issues; build internal support for change; identify priority actions; collaborate with staff on implementation; and build measurement of outcomes and impact into ongoing learning.

Individuals should adopt a view that equality is everyone’s business and engage with their employers in advancing equality outcomes where possible.

This research has highlighted a range of options open to agriculture businesses and organisations to improve gender equality. These need to be explored in the specific context of the agriculture industry by businesses, industry-based organisations and the Scottish Government.

Industry-based organisations and Scottish Government

  • Use the findings of this report to develop specific actions to enhance diversity of thinking, develop opportunities for discussions and work to increase the proportion of female leadership in industry organisations.
  • Identify and work with organisations who are keen to diversify and advance gender equality.
  • Establish and support an industry-led Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) network for agriculture. This could include an online hub to raise awareness, promote the Equality Charter and share good practice initiatives and resources. Deliver engagement events to bring the network together to share and learn from good practice.
  • Support business to business learning from other male-dominated industries.
  • Work with schools, colleges, universities and careers guidance professionals to improve information on and awareness of the diverse range of careers in agriculture, with a specific emphasis on how women contribute to the industry and profiling of successful women in the industry.


  • Follow a trajectory of improving knowledge, understanding, endorsement, action, measurement and evaluation.
  • Establish key baseline measures, including data on recruitment, retention, occupational segregation and gender pay gaps.
  • Ensure that all workplace stakeholders have a voice in relation to equalities issues and understand that improving gender equality is the responsibility of all.
  • Consult women in the workplace on the barriers that they face in relation to traditional ways and hours of working.
  • Audit human resource practices (formal and informal) to ensure transparency, oversight and accountability for equality practices and outcomes.
  • Learn from other businesses through relevant networking events.
  • Develop a ‘business case’ by working with business stakeholders to work out what this might look like.
  • Make a clear leadership statement of commitment to gender equality.
  • Consider the development of a gender equality strategy and enable people at different levels within the organisation to be involved in designing and driving it in order to ensure sufficient endorsement of priority actions.
  • Focus on challenging problematic cultures, behaviours and practices rather than trying to change women to fit within these problematic cultures and equipping them to cope with problematic behaviours.
  • Focus on actions that have evidence of effectiveness in producing positive change for women rather than actions that are currently popular.
  • Identify an action plan to address priority actions within an ambitious but achievable timetable.
  • Engage all staff in actions and consider distributing leadership of specific initiatives to maximise engagement and endorsement.
  • Establish periodic measurement of the outcomes of gender equality initiatives to allow for course correction where relevant, and share information on progress across the organisation.
  • Use periodic measurement to evaluate the impact of initiatives and to generate a feedback loop that showcases success and concentrates effort on more difficult or long-standing problems.

The workforce in agriculture

  • Adopt a view that equality is everyone’s business.
  • Women should request paid time to engage in a wider industry-led Equality, Diversity and Inclusion network.
  • Women should develop and make a case for positive action to encourage women to enter and remain in the industry by sharing their experiences and challenges.
  • Women should request support in relation to challenges that are specific to women as they encounter them to increase awareness and understanding of women’s experiences.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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