Women in Agriculture 'Be Your Best Self' 2020-2021 pilot evaluation report

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.


This report has discussed the findings of an evaluation of the ‘Be Your Best Self’ (2020-21) training pilot, delivered as part of the Women in Agriculture programme. The evaluation included pre-course and post-course questionnaires, and follow-up interviews with seven women around six months after they had taken part in the course.

This research provides evidence of the long-term impact of the training, in addition to the views of the women who took part on the course delivery. Their feedback on the course has enabled us to plan the next stage of the ‘Be Your Best Self’ training programme in 2021-23, its design and evaluation.

Overall, the research shows that the ‘Be Your Best Self’ training pilot has achieved its aims by helping women in agriculture to: build their confidence; discover the true value of their skills, strengths and experiences; refocus and re-prioritise; explore new possibilities and opportunities; and gain support and connections with other women in the industry.

As the survey results show, respondents felt more optimistic about their future in agriculture after completing the course. It had a positive impact on their confidence in their skills, strengths and experiences, and after the course, the majority felt more confident about taking part in agricultural events and signing up for further training and opportunities.

Building on this, the interview findings demonstrate that the course has had a positive, long-term impact on interviewees’ sense of confidence, optimism and self-worth, and that this has led to positive changes in terms of their own roles in farming and agriculture.

For example, since completing the course, participants have gained the confidence to take on a bigger role in business planning and decision-making, and try new activities on the farm. Many of them feel more motivated and focused, and this suggests the wider impact the course will have on women’s roles in Scottish agriculture.

Whilst the course outcomes have been shaped by a range of factors, including challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the course has been successful in helping women at different stages of their lives to refocus and to explore new opportunities.

The course has led to lasting connections between women in agriculture, with participants staying in touch online, meeting in person and sharing advice and support.

Those interviewed have valued the opportunity to meet women of different ages and backgrounds, from various locations and roles in farming, to share their knowledge and experience with each other. The research shows the benefits of connecting women in agriculture, in addition to increasing their confidence, knowledge and skills. Both are important in supporting women’s progression in the industry.

Next steps

This research highlights what has worked well or not as well, and areas to focus on in delivering the next stage of the ‘Be Your Best Self’ course:

  • The course should be a safe and open space where those taking part can discuss both their concerns or doubts and their plans for the future
  • Those delivering the course should aim to create both a challenging and supportive environment by building relationships with and between the women
  • Through one-to-one sessions at the start of the course, participants should be encouraged to open up and feel more confident about taking part
  • The aims and design of the programme should be clearly explained to applicants, so that women know what to expect before taking part
  • Participants should be given the opportunity to talk in smaller groups, so that they can build relationships and take part in discussions
  • Cohorts should be encouraged to build a support network, stay in touch with each other and continue to share their experiences after the course
  • A wider network of women who have taken part in the course should also be set up, to build further connections between women in agriculture
  • The programme should continue to be delivered online, but consideration should be given to encouraging women to meet in person when possible

The survey results show that after completing the course, respondents felt more confident about signing up for further training or employment opportunities, taking part in agricultural events and raising concerns about the way the business is run. The ‘Be Your Best Self’ course will therefore play an important role in our work toward achieving the aims of the Women in Agriculture taskforce. It will help to support positive change within the industry, by breaking down barriers faced by women and inspiring them to reach their full potential.

In the survey, just over half of respondents felt more confident about having a say in financial decision making in the business. We will focus on this area in planning the next stage of the Women in Agriculture Development Programme (WiADP).

The ‘Knowing your Business’ course will be designed to enhance women’s business skills, and will aim to help women involved in agriculture increase their knowledge, skills, tools and confidence to improve business performance. This will be piloted in 2022-23.

The 2021-22 Programme for Government sets out a commitment to ensure that women living or working in Scottish agriculture are empowered to develop their skills, access opportunities and realise their potential.[6] The findings outlined in this report show that the ‘Be Your Best Self’ training programme is key to delivering this commitment.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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