A recent study by Corteva Agriscience reveals that women who work in agriculture perceive gender-based discrimination in the industry as widespread.

The study was conducted in 17 countries from four continents. 4,157 women between the ages of 29 and 41 were interviewed. Most worked in crop farming, but others raised livestock, sold agricultural products and services, or provided agronomy consultancy.

Gender equality: a reality far, far away

Most of the women who were interviewed believe they’re discriminated against due to their gender, but the strength of this perception varies significantly between countries.

In India, 78% of the women upheld this belief, whereas, in the USA, 52% of the women said the same.

This perception includes “both active discrimination and such structural inequalities as differing educational opportunities and the need to balance their agricultural work with their role as family caregivers,” according to the study’s authors.

62% of the respondents claim that discrimination against women in the industry has decreased in the last 10 years. But 31% say that the situation remains the same or that it has gotten worse. Only 42% believe they have the same opportunities as men.

A significant percentage, 38%, said that their income from agriculture is insufficient to provide for their family.

Most women expect the situation to improve over time but think that full equality will take a long time.

What stands in the way of equality?

Participants in the study identified three main obstacles to gender equality in agriculture.

The first is the wage gap: 37% of the women said they make less money than their male peers.

Financing opportunities are also noted as an obstacle: 36% said they have less access to financing than men.

Finally, access to agriculture technology and training in this area is pointed out as another major problem. Many women feel they have less access to both.

How can the situation be solved?

For the women who participated in the study, the solution should encompass better training in AgTech for women, more access to academic education, protection and support for women who are discriminated, raising awareness about the importance of women’s role in agriculture, and creating a dialogue about the negative impacts of gender discrimination in agriculture.

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Photo: Queensland University