A dozen women representing seven states and various U.S. grower associations were eager to participate in the event. Several themes were discussed, including how women in agriculture are perceived from both those within agricultural industries as well as outside of, and how the agricultural community can engage and showcase women more effectively. In addition, there was strong sentiment regarding the importance of development opportunities for young females in agriculture going forward.
Women in agriculture face many barriers to success, many of which revolve around a fundamental lack of understanding the important roles of women in agriculture. Several of the women involved in the focus group spoke about the surprised reactions they receive to being the primary operator on the farm or at the high level of education they have earned.
“Changing the perception can go a long way to breaking down barriers for women in agriculture,” said Amanda Rinehart, Iowa Area Leader, Corteva Agriscience. “In the U.S., more than a third of farmers are women, and more than half of all farms have a least one female decision-maker. Women are there and they are involved. We as an industry can continue finding ways to showcase that.”
The focus group also discussed the importance of grower associations and the need to provide opportunities that would make engagement easier for women who play dual business and family care roles on the farm. Small things, like shifting typical meeting structures and engagements to fit the life stages of its members, offering on-site childcare, or providing training and/or mentorship programs could dramatically increase the involvement of women of all ages.
Over the years, Corteva has taken a number of steps to empower and support women in agriculture, including the creation of the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN), which connects women across Corteva and enables them to collaborate and develop leadership skills, ultimately supporting the women in agriculture who work to support its customers.
Corteva also created recruitment, retention and hiring goals for women and formed an accelerated training program for new sales employees supporting the U.S. Commercial business. The training program has recently been over 50% women.
While the company has made strides internally, a strong focus on external work is also being made, stretching beyond advertisements. The Corteva™ Grows Science outreach program consists of employees who inspire their communities through scientific literacy. Additionally, the company supports and collaborates with the Science Bound program at Iowa State University, the home state of its Seed Global Business Center, as one example. And, the American Soybean Association (ASA) Corteva Young Leaders Program continues to be a highly favorable program with positive impact.
In addition to providing training, leadership programs, engagement opportunities and resources, Corteva highlights the stories of women in agriculture who are making great impact in the industry. By amplifying these stories, such as the “My husband married a farmer” ad, well-deserved attention and recognition is brought to these women.
“Through our work with these programs and advertisements featuring women in agriculture, not only are we providing representation, but we are supplying opportunities for the next generation that may not know agriculture is an option for them, as well as equipping those who are our future leaders” Rinehart said. “The more we can do as an industry to equip young farmers — especially Millennials and Gen Z — to speak about the advancements, use of technology, and variety in agriculture, the more we can build those relationships and set up ag as a viable career path.”
Great strides have been made involving diversity and inclusion in agriculture, but the work is ongoing and requires a concerted effort from everyone in the industry.
“To ensure we keep making progress and are moving forward, we must engage in conversations, challenge the status quo, and continue finding ways to support women in agriculture,” Rinehart said. “Building a robust, sustainable and resilient industry requires hard work and dedication to advancement. That is what we are trying to achieve at Corteva Agriscience and for our customers.”
Read the report, “A Commitment to Women in Agriculture”