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.


What is the problem we are trying to solve?

The Women in Agriculture Taskforce final report (2019) identified cultural barriers and gender bias within the Scottish agriculture industry and recommended the mainstreaming of an Equality Charter into all agriculture and related policies. Further evidence was needed to underpin the development of an Equality Charter that could encourage long-term change across the industry.

What did we do?

The research involved an evidence review and six case studies to explore effective ways of bringing about greater gender equality within Scottish agricultural businesses and organisations with paid employees. We gathered evidence on gender equality initiatives and their effectiveness in other industries, produced case-studies of key actions and examined ways of monitoring their impact. A lack of accessible examples of actions in small to medium-sized enterprises led to the inclusion of larger businesses as case-studies. In total, we carried out 36 interviews with managers and women employed in traditional male-dominated occupations.

What did we learn?

We learned that to advance gender equality in agriculture requires:

  • adopting inclusive approaches where gender equality is everyone’s responsibility, but is especially so for key organisational decision-makers;
  • ensuring that gender equality is embedded in the formal and informal values of the business, rather than focusing on standalone initiatives;
  • focusing on transparency and fairness in the design and implementation of HR policies and practices that explicitly recognise the need to enhance gender equality in specific organisational contexts;
  • providing appropriate training to support implementation;
  • establishing clear accountability for delivering and overseeing equality outcomes;
  • actively enforcing gender equality initiatives;
  • and continuing to measure outcomes and impact.

What happens now?

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 enforcement of 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.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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