Queensland Farm Businesswomen: The Long Road to Leadership

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Ressia, Susan
Strachan, Glenda
Rogers, Mary
Ball, Kim
McPhail, Ruth
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Women’s work and expertise are critical in maintaining and developing agricultural businesses and regional communities. Women represent more than one-third of all agriculture employees in Australia and 28 percent of farmers and farm managers are women. In Queensland, women form over one-third (36%) of the agriculture workforce and just over one-third of Business Owner Managers [BOMs] in regional Queensland. It is estimated that women contribute about half of the total value of output attributed to farming communities through their paid and unpaid activities including the majority (84%) of off-farm income and this is vital for the maintenance of the farming enterprise. In addition, women shoulder major responsibilities for family and household care. These figures underestimate the extent of women’s contribution to the farming and agriculture sector and to rural and regional communities. Historically, compared to their male counterparts, women have been ‘invisible’ and unacknowledged as farmers. There is a lack of information about the detail of women’s roles on farms and in the agriculture industry. Women’s roles are complex and varied and this requires many women to adapt quickly to changing economic and environmental conditions. Women have a wide range of responsibilities related to the farm business, innovation and entrepreneurship, and family care. Queensland farm businesswomen undertake a range of leadership activities in agriculture and within the community. While women hold leadership roles in organisations that have a local focus, they are largely absent as elected board members in agricultural and industry organisations. Many farm businesswomen want to be leaders. However, they are constrained by factors such as the lack of recognition of their roles in farm businesses. Personal circumstances and capacity can also be a barrier to further engagement in leadership, as can organisational issues and a lack of recognition of the skills and perspectives women have developed. Women are willing to develop their skills and networks and to encourage and help develop other women. They are positive about future opportunities. However, there is a need to analyse current training and development opportunities, to identify gaps and ensure that these are accessible to women. The findings presented indicate that there is considerable work (from research to sustained culture change) to be done in order for farm businesswomen to achieve the recognition they deserve (at industry, organisational and individual levels), to have the ability to develop leadership opportunities for themselves, and to access the necessary training and development provisions to support them in achieving their aspirations.

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© 2020 Department of Employment Relations and Human Resources and the Queensland Farmers' Federation. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the publisher’s website for further information.
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Ressia, S; Strachan, G; Rogers, M; Ball, K; McPhail, R, Queensland Farm Businesswomen: The Long Road to Leadership, 2020