July 9, 2015
Are women having more of a say in how farms are run? Research being conducted at James Cook University suggests this may be the case, and technology could be the reason.
Researcher Rachel Hay has been studying how women use digital technology in agriculture and how it can benefit them, their business and their families.
The PhD student’s work builds on a 2013 study that demonstrated the critical role played by women who use digital technology in the beef industry.
Rachel said the digital technology being used included computers, smart phones, drones, remote cameras, weather stations, satellite imagery, GPS collars, electronic ear tags and “walk-over” scales, and remote monitoring of pastures and bore levels.
She said said her new study aimed to discover the benefits to rural women and their families from using technology.
“The 2013 study found that women were driving technology from the homestead for the paddock, highlighting a shift away from men as sole decision makers in the business, and more towards women playing a larger role in farming diversification and productive partnerships,” Rachel said.
“Adopting technology adds value to the business in terms of profit, and in terms of partnerships.
Rachel said using digital technology could also be beneficial to farmers’ well-being.
“Saving time by using technology means women are able to spend more time with their partner in the paddock, reducing isolation and increasing well-being,” she said.
“Many women interviewed in 2013 said they liked to spend the daylight hours out in the paddock and use the computer at night.
“As the use of rural digital technology increases, my research anticipates that women will play a larger role in the management of these technologies.”
Rachel said she was interested in how this would affect farming businesses, personal career paths, and family aspirations of women in agriculture.
“The expected outcomes of the research will help to identify gaps in training, gaps in information sharing, and recognise the importance of the role of women in making decisions on the farm,” she said.