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P.E.I. survey asks women about ag barriers

P.E.I. survey asks women about ag barriers

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries hopes to use the results to increase gender inclusion

By Diego Flammini
Staff Writer

A new P.E.I. government survey is trying to develop an understanding of barriers women face in its agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries industries.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries recently launched the Gender Inclusion in Agriculture, Fisheries and Aquaculture Project.

The online survey is open to the public until midnight on Jan. 11 and explores several issues.

“Are adequate supports in place to encourage, particularly women, in the sectors, are there any issues around balancing career and family, are there gaps in terms of mentorship opportunities, are there enough role models in the industries,” Bobby Thomas Cameron, a policy manager with the ag department, told CBC.

The ag ministry will use its findings to prepare and release a final report later in the year.

The image of a female farmer is changing, said Rinnie Bradley, executive director of Prince Edward Island Cattle Producers.

“I think years ago there was a stereotype that a female farmer couldn’t be taken seriously,” she told “Women were perceived to be not as strong as men and couldn’t do all the work that their male counterparts can. I’m sure some still run into that from time to time, but a woman can do everything a man can.”

One way of including more women in ag can be as simple as changing language on documents.

Specifying a board position is open for men and women, for example, may encourage more females to apply for those positions, Bradley said.

“We’ve been trying to get more women on boards and into farm organizations and I think that’s always been perceived as a man’s job,” she said. “Maybe we need to do a better job at saying males and females are welcome.”

Not all women, however, have experienced resistance in the industry.

Kathy MacPhail, a chicken producer from Cornwall, P.E.I., lost her husband Willard, the farm owner, in 2001. 

Her meetings with bankers were nothing but positive experiences.

“Whenever I had to borrow money, they were always professional and willing to help,” she said. “I never had any issues with lawyers or accountants either.”

The deadline to participate in the survey is Jan. 11. Respondents can enter a draw for a $75 gift card to a farmers market.


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