The role of women in United Kingdom farm businesses

Zoë Kempster, Wyn Morris, Louise Manning, Robert Bowen

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The global empowerment of women has been, and remains to be, a continuing issue, especially within the workplace. The agribusiness industry is no exception, where continuation of gender bias and stereotypes positions women as under-represented. Whilst the significance of women in farm businesses is evidenced, their relative invisibility in policy discourse is clear, despite the number of women developing careers in the industry increasing. This qualitative study examines the self-identified roles of women in United Kingdom (UK) farm businesses by interviewing individual participants in the sector (n = 8). The literature highlights four roles: the farmer, farm manager, off-farm income careerist and entrepreneur with an on-farm diversified business which forms a theoretical framework to structure the interviews. Findings show five emergent self-identification of role characterisations as being the mother, a decision-maker, a supporter, a labourer and an entrepreneur within a personal role profile. Thus, whilst externally identified roles consider women's status and contribution in a siloed job role structure, the multiplicity of roles that women undertake are much more nuanced and contiguous. The research contribution is an understanding of the variance and multiplicity of tasks undertaken which indicate the extensive work and contributory efforts that women instinctively provide to the farming business and the farm household structure. Findings contribute by establishing a new conceptualisation of the contributions of women to farm businesses informing rural policymakers, to consider the roles of women at farm household level rather than simply focussing on the gender characteristics of the principal farmer.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation
Early online date28 Feb 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 28 Feb 2023


  • Agriculture
  • farm
  • role
  • women


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