Women in Horticulture initiative works to close sector's gender disparity

The team at United Fresh and 5+ A Day.
The team at United Fresh and 5+ A Day. Photo credit: Supplied / Women in Horticulture

New research has highlighted the gender disparity in leadership positions in the country's horticulture industry. 

Only 20 percent of senior roles in the industry are held by females, despite women representing 50 percent of workers in the sector, the research showed.

But Women in Horticulture (WiH), which commissioned the study, is trying to change that. 

The industry collective launched a new website this week which aims to "tackle the imbalance by fostering an environment which will empower, value and support the thousands of women working in the horticulture industry across New Zealand".

Paula Dudley, general manager of United Fresh and executive member of WiH, says a major part of fulfilling this goal is to encourage more women to step into leadership positions

"Women have a significant contribution to make to the decision-making process at all levels of the industry," Dudley said on Monday. 

"Our work aims to demonstrate this contribution and provide guidance and inspiration to women of all ages considering a career in the horticulture industry."

The website was formed by a group of female business leaders employed in a variety of roles across the sector.

Catherine Lewis, another executive member of WiH and director of Lewis Farms, says the website will represent members throughout the horticulture supply chain and work to raise the profile of women in the industry.

"Women are present at all levels of horticulture throughout New Zealand. This is positive progress - we just need lots more of it," Lewis said.

"With women representing nearly 90 percent of those Kiwis who have become unemployed due to the pandemic, WiH has identified the urgent need and massive opportunity for women to become more engaged in the horticulture industry."

The website will also offer various resources offering information on board opportunities, scholarships and awards in the sector.