Johnsons of Whixley workers call for more women in senior roles in horticulture

Women working at leading amenity nursery Johnsons of Whixley have said there should be more women in senior roles in horticulture, on International Women's Day.

Women are more common in nurseries in 2018. Image: Johnsons of Whixley
Women are more common in nurseries in 2018. Image: Johnsons of Whixley

The women spoke up as this year’s International Women’s Day theme was Press of Progress, using the #PressforProgress hashtag on social media and highlighting the on-going campaign for gender parity.

A quarter of staff at the North Yorkshire nursery are female, and have seen more women working there since they started, but they believe more can be done.

"I think the industry is missing a trick by not having more women directors or managers," said Vicky Newell, who is responsible for key customer accounts in the North East, North West and Scotland. She said there were more women in white collar roles since she started 11 years ago.

"We have different opinions, but surely a variety of ideas is how we will compete in the challenging times the industry is seeing at the moment?"

Sandra Grayson, Johnsons’ payroll and tax administrator and with the company 17 years, said that horticulture was still male dominated but that more women were coming into the industry in different sectors, such as business, science, technology and engineering.

But she agrees with Newell. "I would like to see more women in senior management roles in the industry and I think in the future more key positions will be taken up by women."

However Claire Horner, Johnsons’ wholesale plant centre sales and operations supervisor said she had not seen any negative stereotypes about women in the workplace during her time working in horticulture. She has been at Johnsons for 19 years.

 "When I first joined the business, I was the only woman on the Ryther site, working alongside eight men - but I was never given a task based on my gender, only on my ability.

"The trend I have noticed the most for women in horticulture is the increase in women in prominent roles.

"There are now more women who run their own nursery or have their own business, and there are more female designers now, of whom many are award winners.

"The horticultural industry has lots to offer women," Horner added, "whether they want to nurture plants, show their artistic flare, educate others or simply work with nature and feel the soil under their fingernails. 

"I think young women need to be made aware of the potential career opportunities available to them - that you can be a successful woman, run a business and have great opportunities to flourish.

"I also think the horticulture industry needs to raise its profile, so it is not just seen as a hobby for women who like gardening; it should be seen as a positive career choice."

Johnsons of Whixley was established in 1921 and has grown into one of Europe’s largest commercial nursery businesses. It is still run by the Richardson family. 

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