Women in agribusiness urged to grasp opportunities

By Alana Christensen

As the push to get more women into agriculture increases, VFF horticulture group president Emma Germano encouraged other women to do one simple thing — turn up.

Speaking at La Trobe University’s Women in Agribusiness event in Shepparton on Wednesday night, the managing director of I Love Farm said she often didn’t consider the role her gender played in her career when she was younger.

For Ms Germano, growing up on the family farm, the conversation was different.

‘‘Dad’s the farmer and mum’s the farmer’s wife ... I didn’t think anything of it,’’ she said.

‘‘There’s a gender pay gap, there’s no question. We’re under-represented, there’s no question. There’s injustices, there’s no question,’’ she told the 60-strong crowd.

However, Ms Germano expressed frustration that a lot of energy seemed to go into debating ‘‘how to debate’’ the issue, rather than the issue itself.

‘‘I don’t like having to think ‘how do I pitch myself without damaging the platform (of women)?’’’

Ms Germano said sometimes the situation did not dissolve down into a male versus female battle and that often unconscious bias played a large role.

‘‘To just only focus on gender is really undoing the whole thing,’’ she said.

‘‘Some of the men around the table don’t know when they’re challenging us because of gender.’’

Ms Germano said having a good support network could be key for women who were struggling to be taken seriously or take the next step, with something as simple as a glance from another women in a meeting being all that was needed.

‘‘That tiny little bit of support can be enough to do the next thing,’’ Ms Germano said.

‘‘The world is run by people that turn up. Just turn up, take every challenge, take every opportunity.

‘‘Stop focusing on what’s wrong with you. It’s so easy to discredit yourself ... Focus on what you do well and how you can become amazing at those aspects.’’

Ms Germano presented alongside Murray Dairy regional extension officer Lisa Birrell, Geoffrey Thompson Holdings technical manager Dr Bisi Oladele and Irrigated Cropping Council executive officer Dr Charlotte Aves at the event.