National Farmers' Federation

10 outstanding women selected for Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program

Ten outstanding women from across Australia and with diverse backgrounds and skill sets have been selected to take part in the 2019 Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program.
In its second year, the Program, an initiative of the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) aims to fix agriculture’s ‘woman problem’, by developing and empowering aspiring female leaders to reach their potential.
“Currently, women comprise 41% of the agricultural workforce but make up only 18% of management roles and 2.3% of CEO positions,” NFF President Fiona Simson said.
“This is out of step with other comparable industries and is a statistic that the NFF and our committed program Partners are determined to rectify.”
“It’s time that women are equally represented at the level where decisions are taken that shape the future of our industry and rural and regional Australia more broadly,” Ms Simson said.
The below 10 aspiring female leaders were selected from more than 140 applications:
Jacqui Cannon, Brisbane, QLD
Rachel Carson is the National Sales Manager for Agricultural Solutions in Melbourne, VIC
Robbie Davis is the CEO of Potatoes South Australia in Narrung, SA
Allison Harker is a Local Government Councillor and in Yass, NSW
Linda Lee is the Director of Agribusiness Development for the NT Government in Berrimah, NT
Cathy Oates is a viticulturist and Vice President of Wines Australia on Wilyabrup, WA
Leonie O’Driscoll is the Managing Director of Evofarm Pty in Marra, NSW
Kelly Pearce is the Director of Farmers Mutual Limited in Yealering, WA
Natalie Sommerville is the manager of her farming business Windjara Ag in Spalding, SA
Alison Southwell is a Course Director for agriculture courses at CSU in Mangoplah, NSW
Each participant will undertake an almost five-month mentoring program with mentors who are already accomplished leaders. To begin their leadership journey, the group will come together at a two-day intensive retreat in Canberra over 30-31 May. The women will graduate as part of the NFF’s 40th anniversary celebrations during October and go on to be a part of the growing Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program alumni.
Ms Simson said the highly-successful inaugural Diversity in Agriculture Leadership Program, was the basis for this year’s opportunity.
“Feedback from our 2018 cohort was that the opportunity was transformational and life-changing and since graduation our 2018 aspiring leaders have gone on to continue to realise their leadership goals.”
Ms Simson said the importance of Program was demonstrated by the level of support from Australia’s leading farm representative and agribusiness organisations.
“We are delighted and proud to this year to have doubled the number of partners supporting the program, and importantly, who have committed to make meaningful change towards gender diversity within their organisations.”
The 2019 Diversity in Agricultural Leadership Program Partners are: the National Farmers’ Federation, AgForce, Australian Agricultural Company, AgriFutures, Australian Community Media, Bayer, BASF, Coles, Consolidated Pastoral Company, Elders, Grains Research and Development Corporation, National Broadband Network, NSW Farmers, Landmark, Nufarm, Prime Super, Rabobank, Rimfire Resources, Rural Bank, Ruralco, Syngenta, WFI and Win Australia.
“These organisations have stepped up and signed up to support our mission to even the ledger when it comes to female representation in agriculture.
“They are doing far more than talking about advancing women in our sector they are leading by example and they should be recognised for that,” Ms Simson said.
The NFF has identified increasing the representation of women as key to achieving agriculture’s goal to be a $100 billion industry by 2030 and has set a target to double, by 2030, the number of women in agricultural management roles.

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