Work needed to remove barriers holding women back from Ag management roles: CAHRC

The Canadian Agricultural Human Resource Council is concerned with the number of women making it into managerial positions within agricultural companies and organizations.

Executive Director Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst tells Rural Roots Canada there’s no shortage of women who have the training to do so.

“What we see is although women are participating extensively in training opportunities in colleges and universities, even in leadership courses, to the tune of about 60 per cent they’re only seen and identified at the managerial level at about 25 per cent,” says MacDonald-Dewhirst.

She says this shows there is a lot of work that needs to be done so everyone can understand the reasons for this discrepancy and what needs to be done to make it better.

Which is why the CAHRC is working on developing guidelines and policies to help businesses and organizations to foster more female participation at the management level.

MacDonald-Dewhirst says some of the most surprising findings come from the perceptions of what barriers women face in the workforce.

“83 per cent of men don’t identify there are barriers to women rising in the industry, yet we don’t see women rising, so that is a concern.  When we talked to women under 50 per cent identified they do experience barriers and what they see are those barriers are there’s an ‘old boy’s club’.  They’re worried about being perceived as credible, they’re concerned about that.”

MacDonald-Dewhirst says women also told them there is a real lack of role models and that is impeding their progress to move up the chain.

She says both men and women agree there needs to be more research on the topic and ag businesses and organizations need tools to do better in this regard.

They are now asking both men and women to share their stories about their experiences in the workplace to help them understand the issue.

MacDonald-Dewhirst says there are pockets of the ag community doing great things along these lines and these examples need to shared to help create a strong vibrant workforce.

Portia MacDonald-Dewhirst spoke about Breaking Barriers to Women Achieving Leadership Positions at the Advancing Women Conference East 2016 in Toronto. The next Advancing Women Conference is in Calgary on March 6 and 7. For more information click here.