A report completed with the help of several top agribusinesses and organizations looking at the role of women in the ag workforce reveals that more opportunities for females in the sector may soon become available.
The report, released at the end of October during the second annual Women in Agribusiness Summit in Minneapolis, Minn., studied strategies for recruiting, retaining and advancing women for the benefit of a more financially productive business.
"The Changing Demographics and Experience of Women in Agribusiness." report was completed with the help of Agrium, FFA, Hancock Agricultural Investment Group, Mosaic and Zoetis. It includes data collected from more than 180 U.S. agribusiness and food industry companies.
"The report provides a snapshot of women in the industry today, highlighting the areas in which there are opportunities to increase women's participation and leadership, which will improve the performance and competitiveness of agribusinesses worldwide," said Joy O'Shaughnessy, director of Women in Agribusiness at HighQuest Partners, the consultancy that completed the study.
"It is designed to serve as a tool to steer companies, and the industry as a whole, to a more gender-inclusive workforce."
Key findings in the report include:
-Evidence that agricultural and food companies are struggling to attract enough employees to meet labor demands, suggesting increasing opportunities for women to participate in the sector.
-While men and women graduate about evenly with ag degrees, women are still underrepresented in more advanced positions in the sector, and in fact, most women are in junior level positions (41%) and over 80% of the HR, customer service and office administration positions are held by women.
-Nearly 30% of women currently working the industry have been there for more than 15 years, forecasting an increase in demand for talent in the near future.
-Companies with the most female representation on boards have better financial performance than those with the fewest women board members.
"The time is ripe to be conscious of the huge, valuable resource we have in women for advanced roles in agribusiness," said O'Shaughnessy. "This report can be the guidebook to ensuring that change to attract, retain, challenge and advance women in the ever-growing agribusiness sector."
More than 450 women attended the 2013 Women In Agribusiness Summit. Another event is planned for February 3-4, 2014, in Barcelona, Spain.
Source: HighQuest Partners