More women working NZ farms

More women working NZ farms

New Zealand is seeing a rise in the number of women working in farming. For years farming has been mainly viewed as a man's world, but the tide is turning.

Nestled away on a north Canterbury farm, Louisa McClintock is not your average teenage girl. At just 17 she's fallen in love with farming. She has quit school and is taking up the reins of her granddad's farm.

"Everyone thought I was going to stay at school till year 13 and do the whole nine yards and go to uni, but I don't think there's anything I'd rather be doing; farming is it," she says.

She's not alone. Over the past five years, 20,000 Kiwi women have entered the farming workforce, and the number of females studying agriculture has more than doubled.

"It was unusual in the past; it's not unusual at all now to see women running farms," says Professor Bruce McKenzie of Lincoln University.

But it's not only happening in New Zealand. The UK has had a 23 percent rise in the past three years, and in the United States females are operating 30 percent of farms.

"More people are realising that they can get into the industry and they will be treated just as fair and we are just as hard workers as men are," says Ms McClintock.

Although it may seem new, being a female farmer in predominately male industry is something 95-year-old Jean Anderson knows all too well. She has managed a Banks Peninsula farm on her own for more than 80 years, only stopping drenching cattle six months ago.

"My heart was in it to the extent that I wasn't interested in doing anything else but that," says Ms Anderson.

Despite being miles apart, their message to young female farmers is clear.

"If your heart's not in it you shouldn't be doing it," says Ms Anderson.

"Follow your dreams," says Ms McClintock. "If someone says to you you can't do it, prove to them that you can."

If the upward trend is to continue, there will be plenty more women sharing that sentiment.

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