Women in agriculture study

CAHRC is Hoping to Strengthen Access to Leadership Opportunities
May 15, 2015
Written by Theresa Whalen
Women will be able to access a variety of online leadership materials.
Women will be able to access a variety of online leadership materials.
June 2015 – The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council (CAHRC) will be conducting a three-year research project called “Supporting the Advancement of Women in Agriculture” (SAWA) to examine and address critical barriers to advancement that women face in the agricultural industry.

“The purpose of this initiative is to engage women and stakeholders within the agriculture community to develop and implement a strategic program to support improved access to leadership opportunities and strengthen business success for women working in agriculture,” says CAHRC executive director Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst.

The project will involve a comprehensive
assessment of the current situation facing women in agriculture by collaborating with project partner
organizations and others within the CAHRC network. Using a gender lens, the assessment will explore the contribution of women to the industry, the barriers they experience, prioritize options for improvements, and assess the effectiveness of current services.

Specifically, demographics will be examined to identify the proportion of women on boards of directors for agricultural associations and executive teams of large agricultural businesses.

Through surveys and interviews, the current occupation and position of women working in agriculture will be reviewed along with their aspir-
ations for advancement and barriers. As well, the survey will also gather information about training, mentorship and networking experience, knowledge of options and barriers.

A review of innovative technology-enabled practices that support improved access to advancement, networking and training options will also be conducted to gather best practice approaches and formulate project outcomes.

The information garnered will inform the development of programs and resources to assist women in agriculture as well as agricultural employers, organizations and training institutions to strengthen access to leadership opportunities and business success for women working in agriculture.

Some of the expected programs and resources to come from this will include a “Supporting Women in Agricultural Leadership Program” that offers online resources, the creation of a “Women in Agriculture” professional network, and a suite of instructive reference materials for boards and training institutions to improve the accessibility of opportunities for women.

“Through this project, organizations will have access to specific tools and reference materials to guide them in removing barriers while supporting women’s participation in senior leadership roles,” says Debra Hauer, SAWA project manager for CAHRC.

“Additionally, training and educational organizations will be given assistance to support increased enrolment and graduation rates of female students.

“Finally, women will have access to a one-stop, credible forum for reference material, information exchange, networking and opportunities to support their career success.”

The project is being conducted as a partnership-based initiative with extensive support and contributions from national and regional agricultural associations, training and education providers, and women’s groups, along with the Ministry of Status of Women in Canada.

For more information, contact CAHRC at  www.cahrc-ccrha.ca.


Theresa Whalen is a communications and marketing specialist with Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council.


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