7 March 2023. By School to Industry Partnership Program Liaison Officer Chelsea Hartwig.

Everyone loves a farm girl – the fictionally desirable, naïve daughter of a farmer, who marries the boy next door and settles down in the country.

As someone who grew up on a farm, it’s a stereotype I’ve been fighting all my life.

That, and the ridiculous ‘Farm Barbie’ fantasy - popular with city guys who don’t know any better (sorry fellas but Daisy Dukes and crop tops just aren’t practical for heavy lifting).

Historically speaking, images of female farmers have tended to swing on the pendulum of wholesome to tempting. 

Back in 1986, even Playboy published a tawdry ‘farm girl’ edition, which didn’t do much for the credibility of women in agriculture.

I like to think we’ve come a long way since then. These days, stereotypical representations of farmers’ daughters in the media are harder to find.

The public perception of agriculture and its people is changing, and women are recognised and celebrated as farmers in their own right – not judged on their appearance.

But there is still work to be done.

When I tell people I manage my family farm they often seem surprised.

I understand looks can be deceiving, but people shouldn’t be judged solely on gender.

This week, as we #EmbraceEquity for International Women’s Day, the focus is on gender and understanding the difference between equality and equity.

To clarify, equality means individuals are given the same resources or opportunities, while equity recognises that each person has different circumstances and allocates the exact resources and opportunities needed to reach an equal outcome.

The IWD 2023 campaign theme drives worldwide understanding of why equal opportunities aren't enough.

Fortunately, at AgForce, there are no gender barriers - women make up more than half (54 per cent) of our staff, compared to just 32 per cent in the industry as a whole.

But going forward, a focus on gender equity needs to be part of every society's DNA.

It’s the only way we can stamp out unrealistic stereotypes that do nothing to forge the change we so desperately deserve.