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New survey shows changing role of women on British farms

A new survey has given a unique insight into the working lives, aspirations and outlook of women on British farms.

Women are incredibly optimistic about the role they will play on farms and in shaping UK agriculture over the next decade, survey results show.

That’s one of the key messages from a Farmers Weekly and Barclays survey, in which more than 2,000 male and female respondents shared their views on the role of women on farms around the country.

The research, the biggest ever conducted in this area, reveals much has clearly changed compared with a generation ago, with only 4% of women considering it harder for females entering the industry now compared with when they joined. Additionally, about two-thirds of women suggested that in terms of pay, benefits and daily work routines, they’re treated “mostly” or “always” equally to men.

Across men and women, 59% suggest agriculture is either the same or better than other industries in terms of offering equal opportunities – and when asked to predict what the situation would be like in 10 years’ time, this figure rose to 87%.

The survey showed women to be involved in a huge array of activities – more than two-thirds undertook practical farm duties.

Many women felt they shouldered the burden of paperwork, admin and domestic duties. “The males in our farm business don’t do any paperwork – record-keeping, bookkeeping, financial or farm administration. All the daily routine outdoors work (with the exception of lambing and blood-testing or dosing cows) is done without reference to me,” one said.

Another commented: “I have to allow time in my routine to cook three meals a day, which limits what jobs can be done and the boys never have to cook, unless I am away.”

Got a view you’d like to share? Farmers Weekly is keen to hear reaction from men and women to these results and will publish a selection of your comments. Email your opinions to [email protected] or comment on this forum.

Read the full report in Farmers Weekly here

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher of Potato News Today

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