Our list of 701 women in agriculture is growing, but are we making progress?

Editor’s Note: Amy Wu is the founder of From Farms to Incubators, an initiative to empower women in agriculture.

This month marks a year since the launch of the Women in Agrifood Directory. the Directory first launched in 2018 as Alison Kopf, the founder and CEO of Artemis Ag (now part of an a renamed iUNU) posted an open google doc on LinkedIn with the names of 75 “Inspirational Women in Ag” after a Twitter Thread she created earlier this year. This was all in response to noticing too many male-dominated panels and speakers at Agrifoodtech events.

In 2020 I have worked with a number of female Agtech leaders including AgLaunch’s Connie Bowen, Marrone Bio Innovations’ Pam Marrone, AgFunder’s Louisa Burwood-Taylor, Food+Tech Connect’s Danielle Gould and Tenacious Ventures’ Sarah Nolet larger, more sustainable and usable directory.

The vision was simple: the directory would serve as an accessible resource for those looking to add diverse agriculture leaders (including women, transgender and non-binary Folx) to their teams as collaborators and partners; to their networks as peers; and to their events as speakers. I also hope that it will allow women working in this field to connect with each other and foster friendships, collaboration and partnerships.

WWhat is the impact?

The creation of this directory was an affair of the heart for everyone involved; No one benefits directly from the list. It was developed with Airtable and is intentionally open source – we want people to interact with this directory. Entries are crowdsourced to maximize inclusivity – folx can short-complete entries for themselves and/or their peers opinion poll. To date, over 1,200 surveys have been submitted and over 700 women are currently listed. We maintain the directory as much as possible and filter out outdated answers.

What has changed today, International Women’s Day 2022? Has this work had an impact? Anecdotally, we’ve received thank yous from promoters and investors looking for executive-level talent. We’ve received encouraging words of thanks from women in the industry. We have personally benefited from connections with women on this list that we would not otherwise have met. The directory has been featured in major ag publications including Urban Ag News and shared by many on social media platforms.

But some of us, disappointingly, also received negative feedback after sharing the link as a resource for event organizers with monotonous, mono-gender speaker casts.

What next?

We will continue to maintain this directory and ask our colleagues in the Agrifoodtech community to help us.

To the many wonderful men in the agri-food industry – work with us to make all of our organizations stronger and more diverse. If you are asked to attend an all-dude panel, submit this directory as a resource to the event organizer. If you work with amazing women who deserve to be recognized as emerging or current leaders in our field, send them the survey or fill it out for them.

Females and non-binary folx on the list – please update your listings when we email you! Finally, give us your feedback and criticism. This is not a full-time job; We need the community’s help to refine and improve it. We are deeply grateful to those who constructively discouraged us from using exclusive terminology related to gender and pronouns – please keep it up.

Our vision is that one day the directory will include all women working in the food industry worldwide, from farmers to technologists to policy makers and journalists. We hope that the need for additional, unpaid work to create opportunities for ourselves and other women will disappear. That will not happen until representation in agri-food technology reflects that of society at large.

Today, in addition to celebrating your existing female colleagues, consider what you can do to increase the likelihood that your daughters will look back at that list and find it absurdly unnecessary.

For more informations

To access the directory, click here.

If you are missing from the list OR if you are already on this list but would like to update your information, simply Fill out this form and check the “Update” box. You will be contacted every two years to confirm/update your information.

Please reach me at Amy Wu [email protected] or Connie Bowen at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.

About Gloria Skelton

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