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Agri Aware Survey | The future is bright for women in the Agri Sector

March 8, 2022

Michael Geary

In a recent Agri Aware survey of senior cycle Agricultural Science students, 92% believed more women will work in primary agriculture in the next five years.

The questionnaire was given to students attending the Agri Aware Farm Walk and Talk series of tours for second-level students ahead of International Women’s Day. There was a 50% male uptake with the students asked about a range of activities and careers.

Amii McKeever at Agri Aware farm walk & talk with students form St Leos Carlow

While farming is dominated by male practitioners in Ireland. The perception among respondents was in contrast to the reality, with only 72% believing farming was male-dominated and 27% perceiving it as evenly represented.

Farming is hoping to broaden its gender profile and the students surveyed believe that will happen with 92% predicting an increase in female participation over the next five years.

Agri Aware Survey

Of the careers sampled, the students identified engineering as the most male-dominated with over 77% suggesting this was the case. Ireland is third from the bottom of OECD countries in female participation in engineering.

Teaching, non-primary agriculture and IT fared better in the minds of the students from a gender balance perspective.

48% felt there was even gender representation in IT.

44% felt there was even gender representation in teaching.

40% felt there was even gender representation in non-primary agriculture.

The theme for International Women’s Day is breaking the bias and the survey was commissioned to see what biases may be held towards certain careers and activities.

The students were questioned about whether they would consider doing an apprenticeship after their Leaving Certificate and nearly 60% of female respondents said they would consider this as a third level option.

Alan Jagoe, Chairman of Agri Aware said of the survey: “The findings of this survey do not surprise me. We at Agri Aware have seen first-hand on our Farm Walk & Talk series the increased interest of female students in Agricultural Science.

“My hope is that this interest continues beyond the Leaving Cert. Whether that be in primary agriculture where diversity and younger farmers are needed or indeed in the wider agri sector.

“The range of career opportunities in our sector is vast. Hopefully, what we are seeing at second-level education makes its way into those careers over the next few years. Judging by the responses of these students any biases about a future in agriculture is being well and truly broken.”