Women in Agriculture research: progress report - 2020-2021

This report provides a progress update on research conducted as part of the Women in Agriculture (WIA) programme between 2020 and 2021. It presents overall findings, current work and outlines future research planned for 2021-2022.

4. Future research

This section summarises future planned research, including commissioned research on evidence-based approaches to equality commitments in organisations and the evaluation of further Women in Agriculture training pilots.

4.1. Equality commitments

Research on evidence-based approaches to implementing equality commitments in organisations has been commissioned to explore effective ways of bringing about greater gender equality at a structural level within Scottish agricultural organisations.

Research aims

The research will gather evidence on what specific actions have been taken within other industries, such as transport, construction, fisheries and aquaculture. The project will produce case studies of relevant actions and examine ways of monitoring their impact. The final report will outline practical solutions and examples. This will inform the development of a gender equality initiative for Scottish agriculture in line with recommendations made by the WIA taskforce in their Final Report (2019).

The pilot phase of the Equality Charter indicated support for the principles of equality and diversity, however the ambition to create a Charter with commitments for businesses of all sizes proved to be difficult to implement. This suggests a two-pronged approach to creating a culture of change both within industry organisations and in individual farming businesses will be more effective. Further evidence is needed to ensure that any new gender equality initiative within Scottish agriculture is appropriately designed and implemented in order to encourage long-term change.

This research will focus on industry organisations and businesses, which have the capacity to implement structural changes, particularly at board and senior management level. A range of equality and diversity initiatives have already been developed across different industries, including: changes to recruitment practices; training and mentoring programmes; flexible working options, job-share and parental leave policies; and equal pay reviews. However, there is a lack of robust evidence about the long-term impact of these interventions, what has been successful and why.

This research will outline practical solutions and examples. It will comprise an evidence review and produce 4-6 illustrative case studies. The project will start in November 2021 and a report will be published by June 2022.

4.2. 'Knowing your Business' evaluation

The 'Knowing Your Business' training pilot will be delivered through four online courses, 2022-2023. This research will contribute to the evaluation of the pilot.

Research summary

This research will evaluate the 'Knowing Your Business: specialist training for women in agricultural businesses' training pilot, part of the Women in Agriculture Development Programme. The course will consist of high level training for women living or working in Scottish agriculture, specifically addressing business skills and knowledge.

Research methods

The evaluation will include pre-course and post-course questionnaires and follow-up research, for example interviews, case studies and site visits.

The questionnaires will be completed by all attendees. They will explore the impact of the course on attendees' levels of confidence, business knowledge and diversification plans. All applicants will also be asked to complete an Equalities monitoring form.

Follow-up research will then be conducted with a sample of participants from across

the four cohorts 6-12 months after they have completed the course. The interviews will explore its long-term impact and whether it has achieved its main outcomes by:

  • equipping them with knowledge, understanding and skills to develop or improve their family farm or agricultural business
  • enabling them to have greater confidence in raising financial issues and taking part in financial decisions relating to the family business;
  • encouraging them to implement ideas for diversifying their family business

The interviews will be semi-structured, with a focus on the skills and knowledge that participants have gained from the course, and how they are putting them into practice in their own businesses. A case study method may be used, incorporating interviews and site visits. If so, 2-3 case studies will be developed in order to explore the impact of the training on participants' businesses, for example: their diversification ideas and plans; applications for grants or funding; plans to develop their business or improve the profitability and sustainability of their farm, croft or small-holding; ability to future-proof their business, including succession plans; and their relationships with other businesses.


Email: socialresearch@gov.scot

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