Connections cultivate career success for Women in Ag


MOVING women’s participation and visibility in agriculture from the “backbone” of family businesses to the boardroom and other formal leadership roles emerged as a key theme at Women in Ag’s first event in Toowoomba.

An expert panel of Southern Queensland agribusiness professionals shared their insights with a crowd of more than 80 people, discussing everything from the benefits of diversity quotas for boards to changing the perception of agriculture among the next generation of potential workers.

Amelia Booth manages ‘People, Culture and Safety’ at Darling Downs feedlot giant Mort & Co and spoke alongside Jim’s Jerky CEO Emily Pullen and Suncorp’s Western Queensland district manager Kate Drury.

Panellists Kate Drury, Amelia Booth, Emily Pullen and Country Caller’s Caitlin Crowley. IMAGE: Mort & Co

“If you think of women in any industry, it’s so critically important to strategic advantage, performance and sustainability of any industry and organisation,” Booth said.

“If we think of women in ag though, I think they’ve been unsung heroes in the industry for a very long time.

“They sit at the heart of their communities and rural areas, they’re the backbone of a lot of the education, they’re working on properties as it is.

“I think what we see through these events is the collective sharing of those stories to really help elevate the profile of the importance of having diversity in any organisation, but particularly in ag, where we’ve already had women who are sitting at the heart of the industry for a long time.

“I think they’re (women) not only stepping into leadership roles in terms of taking over family companies, or being at the helm of decision making or policy making, but very much around technology and innovation as well.

“I think that’s been a shift that we’ve seen really accelerated in the last few years with the industry.”

Emily Pullen told the crowd while she knew it was an “unpopular opinion”, she was in favour of quotas to achieve diversity goals on boards and within organisations.

“If you want to have proper representation, and we know all of the studies around how having different representation – I’m not just talking gender, age as well, different backgrounds – it’s so important to make good decisions so then I advocate for something like a quota,” she told the audience.

“Then we’ll get to the point where the fear of putting someone who’s ‘different’ in disappears and the need for the quota disappears.”

Pullen said if women are offered a “seat at the table” via a quota, what mattered was what they did with that seat once they took it.

All panellists agreed it was an exciting time for agriculture, which they saw as a progressive industry which was looking for innovation and new opportunities.

Women in Ag was established in 2021 by agribusiness professionals Nikita Daley and Maddie Morgan, both 24, after the pair found themselves looking for advice to help chart a career path in the industry.

“We were looking for people to speak to and work out what our careers looked like from there and how we could tie ag into what we’d done at uni,” co-founder Maddie Morgan told the Caller.

“The whole ag industry is more than producers – it’s producers all the way to the plate – paddock to shirt – it’s everyone and whether you are professional services, across the supply chain, it covers everyone.”

“There’s definitely still perceptions out there that ‘If I don’t have an ag background, I can’t go into it. If my family doesn’t have a piece of land, I can’t go into it,” Nikita Daley said.

“Trying to really break that down is really important because there’s a lot of really smart people out there who could be really beneficial to our industry.”

Daley said they had received great feedback on Women in Ag events so far, but that they were looking for guidance on what they could do with the networking platform into the future.

“Our panels have been really strong, so I think keeping that momentum and keeping it moving in the right direction and maybe in the future, hopefully get some more men in the room,” she said.

“I think it’s important that, we’re not just going to do it on our own. We need both sides of the room to achieve what we want to achieve.”


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