21st Century Land Girls: Celebrating women in agriculture

In the past, women have played minor roles among the agricultural industry, but they are now being celebrated for their crucial involvement within this traditionally male-dominated sector.

Angela Huth’s wartime book ‘Land Girls’, set in 1941, highlights how women proved their value and capability as farmers as a way of supporting the country. Now, 78 years on, women’s voices are increasingly being heard.

This International Women’s Day, as a way of recognising and celebrating women working in agriculture, EN4 News spoke to some inspiring females to find out why a career in this field is proving to be more popular among all ages.

Janet Mcquistin – (Photo Credit Caroline Mcquistin)

“I love my job because I enjoy working with animals and being outside,” said beef and sheep farmer Janet McQuistin.

“My secondary school guidance teacher was horrified when I said I wanted to farm, as she said it would be a waste of my qualifications. I’m so glad I followed my passion.”

Janet farms with her husband and is widely respected in the local area and beyond due to her involvement in Scotland’s livestock industry.

“I have never faced any discrimination in the livestock world and have judged shows and served on committees equally with other men. There are fewer challenges physically for women like me now in that everything can be mechanised.”

Mrs McQustin went on: “Many also have the opinion that women should be trained in doing farm books, feeding calves or running diversification businesses such as holiday lets. Why can’t some people just see that we want to farm?”

When looking to connect with other female farmers, Janet finds Instagram a particularly useful platform for networking.

“Instagram is brilliant because there are so many female farmers posting about their daily work on the farm. Making these connections helps remove the isolation and solitary nature of our occupation.”

Gemma Sloan, 23, farms alongside her father, grandmother and sister on the most southernly farm in Scotland.

“Farming is something that I’ve always known and is in my genes. I help run a livestock and arable farm, as well as a diversified café on the cliff edge at the Mull of Galloway.

“My granny was also brought up in wellies, surrounded by sheep. She has certainly inspired me to get involved in the family farm,” explained Sloan.

With women now heavily involved in all aspects of the industry, Jane Craigie from Aberdeen runs a marketing and communications agency, specialising in agri-food and rural issues. She employs six other females from across Scotland.

Photo Credit – Jane Craigie Marketing

“Women play a vital role in all aspects of agriculture, and the industry has dramatically moved from a male-dominated one to an increasingly inclusive sector. I am completely pro-talent, not pro-women,” she told EN4 News.

“In my experience and as an employee of all women in my own marketing team, I feel that women are natural communicators, innately curious, empathetic and creative, which is crucial in the future development of the industry.”

Being the first women to be appointed to the Ringlink Scotland board, one of the UK’s largest agricultural business rings, Ms Craigie is enthusiastic about encouraging more women onto the agricultural board as a way of recognising talent irrespective of gender.

These women are part of the push to create diverse career opportunities with the farming sector. Despite the industry still being male-dominated, females more respected than ever and celebrated equally for their work.

For more information on women in agriculture organisations, follow the below links:

https://www.womeninagriculture.scot/

https://www.ruralpayments.org/publicsite/futures/topics/all-schemes/women-in-agriculture/

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