This is always risky territory to head into, for fear of being accused of being sexist, an apologist or of mansplaining ( a man explaining something to someone, typically a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing). But I feel there is a need to have the conversation.
Someone once pointed out to me that more than half the people I had working with me at the time were female. Like it was a thing. I hadn't noticed. I also wasn't that shocked or excited. After all, what difference does it make? In my mind you want the right person for the job, not the right man, or right woman.
While my thoughts aren't ground breaking, it appears they aren't shared by everyone, particularly the world of politics, or any other industry controlled by old school thinking.
While it frustrates me that it is even necessary, I can understand why equal representation on boards has become a thing. I can understand why agriculture has a huge number of awards available for young females to win. Because without those things, recognition and career progression can be stunted. Simply based on gender.
But I can see the change taking place in front of our eyes. There are more females having an influence on our industry. And so they should. I was once told by a farmer that he wouldn't employ a female to work on farm, as they aren't physically strong enough. After some discussion on the topic we then changed the subject and moved onto working through his OHS strategies, and the need to eliminate the heavy lifting from their business as it presented too much risk to workers.... hhhmmmm... don't go looking for logic where there isn't any.
I don't envy the females working within Ag and the shit they would have to put up with at times. It is something that I will never really understand because I won't ever be subject to it. But what I can say is don't try to be something you think others need you to be. Be yourself. Our industry needs more of it. Not people trying to "fit in". Change comes from not sticking with tradition.
I can't wait for they day when enforced equal representation on boards is not necessary, when gender specific awards are no longer a thing. A time where a young person entering ag is a young person entering ag, irrespective of gender. And they are awarded and recognized for making a contribution to the sector, no matter who they are.
I have been accused in the past of hoping for a utopian world. Something unrealistic. And as we sit here it probably is. But only because we are confined by current thinking, attitudes and tradition. Why aim for ok, when we can aim for better.
We don't just need female leaders to lead the way, but for everyone to help take us into the future.
A future where no one cares whether you are male or female. Just whether or not you are the best you can be. That is the future I want for my daughters.
Be the future you want.