1. Executive summary
What is this report about?
This report outlines the main findings of an evaluation of the ‘Be Your Best Self’ training pilot 2020-2021, funded by Scottish Government through the Women in Agriculture Development Programme (WiADP). The evaluation has examined the impact of the training through two questionnaires and follow-up interviews.
The Women in Agriculture Taskforce was established in 2017, following research commissioned by the Scottish Government which showed that women face cultural barriers in the industry. In its final report in 2019, the Taskforce made a series of recommendations including a Women in Agriculture Development Programme (WiADP). This aims to deliver training and mentoring to support women in agriculture to build their confidence, enhance their business skills, and develop their leadership abilities.
What did we do?
Two online surveys were sent to all attendees in cohorts 2-4 before and after they had completed the ‘Be Your Best Self’ 2020-2021 training. The surveys were intended to provide evidence of the impact of the course on attendees’ levels of confidence, their access to new opportunities and connections to other women in agriculture.
In-depth, follow-up interviews were then conducted with a total of seven women from across cohorts 1-4 six to twelve months after they completed the training. The interviews focused on the long-term impact of the course on attendees’ confidence, the usefulness of the skills they developed, and any changes to their roles on the family farm or in the organisations they work for.
What did we find out?
Overall, the research demonstrates that the course has had a range of positive outcomes for women who took part, including:
- building their confidence in their skills and strengths;
- providing a chance for self-reflection, and to hear others’ experiences;
- enabling them to refocus and explore new opportunities;
- equipping them with the skills and confidence to develop their roles on the farm or at work, and to form lasting connections with women in agriculture.
What did the survey tell us?
The survey results are positive and show significant benefits across cohorts. The results indicate that the course has had a clear and measurable impact on respondents’ feelings of optimism, confidence and connections to other women in agriculture.
For example, after completing the course:
- 98% said the course had a positive impact on their confidence in their own skills, strengths and experiences
- 88% of respondents said they had good connections to other women in agriculture
- 88% of respondents felt optimistic about their future in agriculture
- 100% of respondents said they had ideas or plans about their future in agriculture
- 100% said that they thought the course would be beneficial to other women in agriculture
What did the interviews tell us?
The interview findings build on this, indicating how women who completed the course have drawn on their increased sense of optimism, confidence and connections to other women to make changes in their lives and work in agriculture.
The majority of interviewees said they have gained a lot from the course, which has given them new skills and strengths which they have used to refocus, explore new opportunities and develop their roles on the farm or at work.
Importantly, the course has built interviewees’ sense of identity and self-worth. It has made them feel more sure of themselves, and their role in agriculture. Since finishing the course, many have played a bigger role in decision-making and business planning, putting forward ideas and trying new activities on the farm.
The course has enabled most interviewees to build strong connections with other women in agriculture. Taking part has led them to feel more motivated and focused, and this suggests the wider impact the course will have on women’s roles in agriculture.
On a less positive note, the interviews have highlighted some of the challenges experienced by women in agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst difficult to measure, this has also shaped the impact of the course.
The findings will inform the ongoing delivery of the ‘Be Your Best Self’ training programme to further cohorts of women in Scottish agriculture during 2021-23. This report will also inform the development of further training pilots for women in agriculture.
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