Cathy McGowan, rural consultant and long time advocate for farming women facilitated The National Women in Dairy Forum held in March 2010. She said, "Among many outcomes from the very successful day, delegates called for a national women in dairy network and on going training in leadership. We are delighted to provide this workshop and hope that one of the outcomes will be a national network. Taking place in Shepparton Northern Victoria from Sunday, September 18 to Wednesday September21. For details contact Cathy
Women in Dairy Leading the Way
Report on National Forum of Women in Dairy
Melbourne March 24, 2010
Facilitator - Cathy McGowan
3. Key recommendations
Appendix A Program
Appendix B Data - Barriers & 'what should be done'
Appendix C Sponsors
The National Women in Dairy Forum was held at the RACV club in Melbourne on Wednesday March 24, 2010. This report summarises the main issues and recommendations.
The primary objective was to gain women's input into the future of the dairy industry in the areas of
- Education and training opportunities
- Policy making
- Farmer organisations
- On farm
Initiated by Genetics Australia, the Forum was held with support from the Australian Government's Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) under its Australian Farming Future initiative and a number of other sponsors.
Following the success of two regional forums held in northern Victoria (November 2008) and Gippsland (September 2009), the national Forum validated the issues raised in these two forums and gained agreement on the main recommendations.
One hundred and fifty delegates traveled from New Zealand, Queensland, NSW, S.A., Tasmania and Victoria to participate in the Forum. Many of the participants had been involved in the original "Women and Diary' leadership program (1995 - 2000) and were active members of the email group
and local "women in dairy" groups.
There was strong support and enthusiasm for the Forum. Participants were keen to network, to be informed and to learn about how the industry is organized, structured and operates in other countries, states and regions. There was overwhelming support for opportunities for women to participate in policy development and leadership opportunities.
However a number of barriers were identified which limit women's ability to participate. These are outlined in the following section.
Appendix B provides a detailed list of the many barriers to the greater participation in leadership and policy matters, experienced by women in the dairy industry. This sections provides a summary of the key areas nominated by Forum participants
Ø A negative perception of women as leaders
Ø Lack of knowledge and education about industry issues
Ø Family politics particularly succession planning and negotiating time away from the farm
Ø Money and the cost associated with voluntary leadership roles
Ø Time constraints particularly given family commitments
Ø Personal limitations around confidence and support
Ø An industry culture which supports inefficient decision making mechanisms and favours an image of 'male leadership'
Ø Access to networks & information
The participants at the Forum discussed these barriers in some detail and workshopped a variety of solutions. The full range of issues and solutions is contained in Appendix B. The following section provides a summary of the main recommendations.
3. Key recommendations
3.1 A national dairy industry leadership program to support the growth and development of all members of the dairy industry in taking on leadership roles. This program to be outcomes focused, data to be collected by gender and outcomes reported to levy payers on an annual basis.
3.2 Industry Culture: Men and women coming together to review and rebuild an industry cultural that is inclusive, effective and efficient in its decision making
RECOMMEND: That the Chairs and CEOs of the dairy industry organisations, lead by the sponsors of this Forum, be invited to participate in a round table to discuss the barriers and issues raised at the Forum. That the key topic for discussion to be the processes and structures needed to make decision making within the dairy industry transparent, effective and efficient.
3.3 People Issues - mental health and succession planning
Mental health and succession planning were nominated as the two major issues impacting on 'people' within the dairy industry. (note not just the farmers, people at all levels and positions within the industry were subject to these issues)
RECOMMEND: That a national research project be undertaken into the impact of 'poor' mental health within the dairy industry and recommendations made as to how the overall health of members of the dairy industry and their communities can be improved.
RECOMMEND: That a task force be initiated to scope the dimensions of this issue, including programs currently available to support farm families, executives within the various industry organisations, those in leadership positions and general workforce.
3.4 Skills - access to relevant education, training, leadership skills, technical skills and skills for effective management of family farm businesses.
RECOMMEND: That the national centre for dairy education be asked to report to Dairy Australia and relevant farmer organisations, on an annual basic and linked to funding, on outcomes by gender. That where there is a lack of effective outcomes for women, that strategic plans be undertaken to ensure that women, at all stages of their life cycle are included in the design, delivery and evaluation of skill based programs.
3.5 Networking and Communication
RECOMMEND: That a national Women in Dairy program be established with adequate funding support for implementation of local and regional "women in dairy" groups and networks. That these groups are enabled and funded to form the basis of a national (multi dimensional) information and communication network for the dairy industry. These groups would be linked to DA's regional development programs/groups as well as other relevant industry organisations.
3.6 Sitting fees, mobile child care, timing and location of meetings
RECOMMEND: That during the roundtable recommended in 3.2, dairy industry CEOs and Board Chairs specifically consult with women about processes and best practice for the provision of mobile child care, sitting fees and the timing and location of meetings.
3.7 Social impacts of drought, changes to water allocation and community decline.
RECOMMEND: That a national social and economic impact study be undertaken to investigate, quantify and make recommendations on how the dairy industry can best support individuals, family farm businesses and communities during this period of transition as a result of ' climate change'.
Appendix B Barriers & 'what should be done'
1. Perception of women
-Tall poppy syndrome
-Breaking the mould
What needs to be done to improve perceptions?
- Education and skills development to build confidence of women in the industry
-Positive stories of women in the diary industry in both rural and urban papers.
-Greater emphasis on the Cows Create Careers -many of the participants had not heard of this program
- Industry promotion via commercials to be gender sensitive
- Participants to be proactive and introducing themselves to leaders
- Positive outlook on the industry
3. Childcare, sitting fees
- Multi serviced childcare (mobile) - ask DA to provide information on the FARMS program operating in northeast Victoria and SE NSW
- Part time workers register
- Financial assistance to care on farm
- Lobby local area
5. Family commitments and Family politics
- Making hours stretch
- Support from spouse and others
- Proactive in seeking support
- Flexible childcare
- Flexible working hours
- Being able to re-enter the industry
. Mentoring schemes for women who are interested in leadership
. Back up on the farm
- Encourage open and honest communication
- Succession planning - it is more than a will
- Change attitudes, 'it's okay to seek help'
Back up for 'all' family members
- Women at base level to encourage others
- Dairy Aust. to have a program of communicating with women and increasing information flow to women
- Information: local/regional - state-national
- Workshops offered/invite women to attend
- RDP level leadership programs
- National approach to pathways to leadership
- More diversity on boards
- 50/50 quota on boards
- Value women's contribution
- Celebrating women already in the industry
- Better board fee and recognising time
- Include brochures for TAFE
- Upto 'us' to change perception of women in the industry
- Small steps
- Education in the leadership
- Always be yourself and 'drive' yourself
- further support for extensive mentoring programs
- Ongoing promotion into the industry
- Support for mentoring programs
- Networking/communication of what is available - specially target women
. Being involved
. Identifying others potential
.Support Women in dairy networks
- RDP information on regular basis
- Local meetings increase getting information out
- Communications campaign
- Encourage others to participate
- Work life balance
- The dairy industry to support a research project that is well funded
- Having a strong representation of women
- Information and programs
•DPI NSW women in dairy program
•New version of women in dairy
•Next generation of women in dairy
•Count/record women in dairy leadership roles
•Raise the profile of women in the industry
•Research what other countries are doing
•Make transparent how decision making boards select new leaders
•Women only days effective, also include joint events
•Women in dairy email group
Step 1.What are the leadership barriers for women in the dairy industry?"
•What is the barrier?
•Why is it a problem?
•What is currently happening?
•Where are the gaps?
•What should happen?
•Who is the driver for change?
Barriers: raw data
- Personal isolation
- Getting knowledge
- Financial cost
- Stage of life
- Trying to be someone else
- Traditional roles, perceptions
- Time and other commitments
- community perceptions of farmer's wife
- Expectations of ourselves
- Juggling husbands and families and their futures
- Tall poppy syndrome
- Lack of confidence in own abilities
- Stereo typing,
- Support network and back up
- Fear of other judging and not being respected
- Family politics, judged by relatives
- Cultural leadership
- Current structural arrangement
- Rural vs metro
- Child care
- Taking initiative
- Breaking in to the boy's club
- Awareness of opportunities
- Training in director roles
- Being female, women's health "hormones"
- Stress/mental health