Grass roots women in horticulture need recognition

I was pleased to read your article on Women in Horticulture as a life-long horticulturalist and a woman.

Helena Glassup

It was interesting to look through the list of women who are on the top 100 women in horticulture and read about the the lack of female representation in the industry.

In horticultural education we have been aware for many years about the lack of young women coming into the industry, we struggle year on year to attract female entrants although our adult courses have plenty of interest from female career changes. I strongly believe however that a lack of representation at grass roots level is part of the problem.

It's inspiring to read about the 100 women in horticulture, all of whom are in high profile positions, but what about all the women out there who run small business, work in the community or generally just turn up to work day to day in the industry? Are their experiences any less valid because they don't hold the top positions?

There is an active Facebook group for women in gardening, aimed not just at professionals but anybody who loves plants and gardening. It's a very supportive group but one of the main themes running though the posts is how under catered for we are in the industry. How machinery often does not adapt to the often smaller physical size of women gardeners, how outdoor work clothes are often tailored for men while women's clothing is harder to find and often expensive and sadly the experiences of women facing discrimination or sexist views from their male counterparts and the public because of their gender. There is still a strong belief amongst school leavers that horticulture is where you go if you can't get a job doing anything else and this is probably magnified for many girls who still, for the most part, perceive it as a man's job and the experiences of the women in the Facebook group do nothing to suggest that many young girls have any reason to want to work in any of the green careers available in this country.

Next year it would be good to hear not just about the top 100 women but from some of the rest of the women working in Horticulture who's skills and expertise are just as valid but not recognised because we go from day to day doing our jobs in an industry we feel passionate about in roles which are not high profile but surely just as important to the industry?

Helena Glassup is a horticulture lecturer 

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