CURRENT and emerging female leaders in the horticulture industry can apply for a leadership development scholarship opportunity valued at up to $5470.
The scholarships come as university research shows agriculture might be doing better than other industries in terms of balancing gender representation.
The Hort Innovation and Women & Leadership Australia (WLA) funded scholarship grants cover up to 60 per cent of the cost of the programs.
The funding is specifically designated for women working in all horticulture sectors who are emerging leaders or have mid-level management and leadership experience.
Hort Innovation chief executive, John Lloyd, said the 2017 Gender Equality Insights report showed that men in agriculture, forestry and fishery industries are paid 18.9 per cent more than women.
“Women in the industry have given us the feedback that they would like additional tools to empower them in what is a male dominated industry,” he said.
“On top of this, an ageing workforce, limited access to formal leadership training, declining interest in studying horticulture and a lack of support around post-graduate research means that it is very hard for women to progress and develop in this field.
“This scholarship program will address some of the issues women face, and give them the tools needed to support long and profitable careers in horticulture.”
Charles Sturt University (CSU) Emeritus Professor Jim Pratley says in terms of gender balance in agricultural education, the scales have tipped but more is needed to support the women in the workforce.
Professor Pratley will present a paper, “Agriculture – from macho to gender balance” at the Australian Agronomy Conference next week in Ballarat in Victoria.
"For 100 years, agricultural education in Australia was provided for males only," Professor Pratley said.
"Specialist agricultural high schools and post-secondary agricultural colleges were established but in almost all cases the early versions of these institutions described their mission as educating boys, lads or young men.
"From the 1970s onwards women were admitted to almost all agricultural education institutions but it took until 2003 for gender balance become a reality in university agriculture.
“This was some 15 years after gender balance had been reached across the university sector."
Professor Pratley said agriculture can now be considered one of the success stories of gender balance, particularly in respect of agricultural education and training.
"Since 2003 female enrolments in Australian universities in agriculture has exceeded enrolment by males.
"Agriculture gender percentages are now on par with the average enrolments across all areas, and similar to those in commerce and the sciences."
Horticulture scholarship applicants can choose from two courses: Executive Ready and the Accelerated Leadership Performance Program.
The blended courses are delivered on a part-time basis over four or seven months respectively.
Participants will learn skills such as heightened presence and influence, managing team dynamics, driving performance and leading innovation and change.
The funding is available to individuals and groups of employees who own or work within levy-paying businesses.
Ten women are currently participating in the two courses after the launch of the program earlier this year.
WLA Head of School Kelly Rothwell said it is fantastic to see the momentum quickly generated by the initiative.
“I take great pride in the fact that 10 women from the horticulture sector are already participating in these leadership development courses,” she said.
“WLA is thrilled to be working with Hort Innovation and playing a key role in transforming the lives of many women right throughout the industry.”
For more information and to apply, visit the WLA website. Expressions of interest close on Friday, October 27 at 5pm AEDT.