Women’s role on farm

An Eyre Peninsula Nuffield Scholar researching women in farming has put together a report on the subject, influenced by his research in various countries around the world. 

Investigating why there are so few women in broad-scale agriculture, 2016 Nuffield Scholar and Yeelanna grain and lentil farmer Randall Wilksch visited Ireland, the United Kingdom, Europe, Canada, the USA, New Zealand and different parts of Australia to conduct his research.

Mr Wilksch said his research found many reasons why women would not become involved in farming, such as history, parenting, and females not identifying as farmers.

“For example (in) Ireland – if you have a thousand odd years of historically passing the farm to the eldest son, (it’s) unlikely you’ll get it if you’re a female,” Mr Wilksch said.

“Parents, if you tell your daughters ‘girls aren’t farmers’ for the first 10 years of their lives, they’re unlikely to be.

He said many women did not identify as being a farmer because they did not drive the main farm machinery.

“Women look after the family, manage the business books, drive utes to move people and machinery, pick up parts from town, drive the smaller (secondary) tractor but don’t identify as being a ‘farmer’.

Women look after the family, manage the business books, drive utes to move people and machinery, pick up parts from town, drive the smaller (secondary) tractor, but don’t identify as being a ‘farmer’.

Randall Wilksch

“(Women say) I don’t drive the seeder...I don’t drive the header (so I’m not a farmer).

“So part of the ‘no women grain farmers’ is actually that very few women identify as being farmers, when really, this is more about definition of what is a farmer.”

Mr Wilksch said he became interested in the topic as a way of increasing sales in the industry and creating a positive story within the industry.

He said women purchased the majority of food and they would talk to other women about goods.

Mr Wilksch theorised an increase in the number of women farming would mean more women telling a positive story about farming, translating to an increase in the number of people purchasing goods.