‘Sexist’ farmers ordered to hire more women
Ministers may impose strict quotas
SEXIST Scottish farmers have been warned to hire more women or face being hit with strict equality quotas.
The industry has been told it has five years to address the imbalance of men and women in leadership roles before ministers intervene.
A damning Scottish Government report, sanctioned by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, states that women should be allowed to take their ‘rightful place’ at the top of the industry.
The 34-page document is the final report by the Women in Agriculture Taskforce, which was set up in 2017 to look into the issue of inequality in the industry north of the Border.
It states that an inherent bias against women within the industry means they are ‘excluded from agricultural dinners and awards’, with female farmers telling investigators they had been ‘asked to leave meetings’ and were ‘not taken seriously’.
National Farmers Union (NFU) President Andrew McCornick, a member of the taskforce, said: ‘What this report shows is a way forward in getting more women to take up leadership roles in farming.
‘The training elements to be put in place will support women involved in farming to build their confidence and enhance their skills. That it is in the interests of every agricultural organisation to support diversity in all forms.
‘We have a good gender balance in our staff body. However, I would like to see more women coming to the fore in the organisation by putting themselves forward for elected positions from branch through to regional and national level.’
It is the first time a British government has established an investigation into the role of women in the farming industry.
It used examples of equality processes in other countries, such as Canada and New Zealand, to put forward recommendations for the industry over the next five years. They include orders that ‘key Scottish agricultural organisations must undertake diversity training to address the imbalance in representation of women in their leadership groups’.
It also states that steps must be taken to develop the ‘skills, confidence and knowledge of women’ so they can secure leadership roles.
Ministers also ordered the establishment of a Women in Agriculture Development Programme (WiADP) as well as an increase in the availability of ‘formal and informal childcare in rural areas’.
The taskforce states: ‘The industry will be stronger when women take their rightful place in it but cultural change takes time.’
In the report, the First Minister said: ‘Scottish agriculture cannot afford not to include and involve women’s talents more fully and equitably.’
She said the recommendations align with the Government’s #GenerationEqual campaign, adding: ‘#Generation Equal is an essential building block for Scotland’s future.’