Research carried out as part of the Women in Agriculture programme between 2020 and 2021 demonstrates its positive impact in developing women's skills, confidence and connections to other women in agriculture. The research has also provided further evidence on important topics such as the challenges of rural childcare, the barriers women on islands face in accessing training, and the need for a women's leadership programme.
The research indicates how the experiences of women in agriculture are shaped by different factors, from their age, background and location to their role on a croft, farm or in an agricultural business. Whilst the research projects outlined in this report have produced evidence on specific topics, they also point to shared themes in women's experiences in Scottish agriculture, building on previous findings. Future research will broaden the scope of the work detailed here by exploring how to bring about greater gender equality within Scottish agricultural organisations. Overall, the research discussed here points to:
- positive changes for women in agriculture, including increased awareness of the role of women within the industry, and the success of training pilots in building women's skills, confidence and connections
- the benefits of these connections between women in agriculture, from practical advice and support to strengthening their identities and aspirations
- the impact of training pilots, with participants feeling more optimistic about their future and confident about their roles on the family farm, and a range of organisations taking part in discussions about unconscious bias and diversity
- the childcare needs of agricultural families, and connections between challenges experienced by women in agriculture and wider rural issues
- challenges for women in agriculture, from lack of confidence or progression in their jobs, to cultural barriers and attitudes that impact their role on the family farm
- COVID-19 and its diverse effects, including increased demand for rural childcare services, alongside greater accessibility of online training and events
The projects outlined here point to areas for further research and evaluation, from the planning of new training courses to the potential for wider discussions around equality and diversity within Scottish agriculture. 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. We will continue to deliver practical solutions to improve the lives of women living and working in agriculture. The research examined in this report contributes to these aims and will inform further work as part of the Women in Agriculture programme.
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